Rally crowdfunding mobility platform expands sports reach

You’re a diehard New York Yankees’ fan stuck deep in Connecticut without access to a car or reliable public transportation, but the launch of startup Rally means you no longer have to give up hope of making the trip to Fenway Park for the Yankees-Boston Red Sox series August 9.

Numaan Akram, CEO of Rally, invited me to a screen-sharing session Monday to demonstrate how quick and easy booking the road trip would be with his company’s community ride-booking program. After finding the game with Rally’s search tool and designating the pickup location, or Rally Point, you just book it. Done deal. The crowd-funded, pop-up mass transit system will have you on a luxury bus with like-minded fans. And the bus allows beer onboard.

“Why are you going to the game to begin with?” Akram said. “You could be watching on TV. But it’s about being with other fans. You want to have an experience. We enable that game-day experience to start through the travel.”

Akram says that Rally booked fans’ trips to 66 NFL games last season in addition to all the trips to baseball games this year, thanks to the company’s partnership with Major League Baseball. On Tuesday, the platform expanded its reach, announcing a partnership with the North American Soccer League champion, New York Cosmos. So, now soccer fans can catch a ride together to Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, NY to see the Cosmos play.

And Rally isn’t relegated to only sporting events, either. You could just as easily book a trip from your area to a bar, restaurant, concert or even the beach.

To date, Rally has transported hundreds of thousands of people in over 1,300 cities to events and destinations across North America. A common misconception about the business is that Rally owns the luxury buses it uses. Not true.  Instead, Rally has relationships with several bus operators. Once they get a group of fans interested in attending a game or destination, the bus is booked.

“There’s no single company that can do all these routes,” Akram boasts. “We’re our own marketplace. When we create a demand — 25 Yankees’ fans together — well, we put it out to bid to the local companies and then we select the best company to work with. And you’re off.”

Rally’s focus on a two-sided marketplace could help it win big — provided it can find growth in a market that ride-sharing giants like Uber and Lyft might look to as future opportunities for new services.