Lyft: A Year-Old Startup That Helps Strangers Share Car RidesSubmitted by goldenequity on Fri, 05/24/2013 - 06:30
Lyft is a car-sharing/semi-pro taxi service.
How it works: You open an app on your smartphone to summon a driver to take you somewhere. A car with a big, fuzzy pink mustache affixed to its front arrives to pick you up. The person who picks you up is not a professional driver, but another Lyft user.
Lyft, which is only a year old, plans to use $60 million to expand beyond its current markets.
The funding enters Lyft into more serious competition with Uber and GroundLink, another two startups with apps people can use to summon taxi rides. Uber has raised the most capital of the three, and has the lead in terms of adoption.
Originally called Zimride, When Logan was traveling in Africa — Zimbabwe, to be exact — he noticed that despite the lack of infrastructure, people were able to get around efficiently thanks to a vibrant ridesharing movement.
He wondered to himself, what would be the next big innovation in transportation? He thought, “I’ll bet it’s about using information to fill seats — especially all those empty seats in cars.”
With this unique vision in mind, John and Logan went about launching Zimride and Lyft. The information technology problem was essentially solved with the proliferation of GPS-enabled smartphones.
The first incarnation, Zimride, launched in 2007, tackling these issues by targeting college students headed home on holiday. Logan and John’s big insight was that by using Facebook profile information via Facebook Connect, both the drivers and the riders could find out about each other to develop enough trust to get into a car together.
Last June, they launched Lyft in San Francisco, a made-for-mobile, ridesharing app that was geared towards ridesharing within a city as opposed to between cities.
Since its launch, Lyft has absolutely exploded and is now doing over 30,000 rides per week
Lyft screens their drivers with interviews and full background and DMV checks. They are looking for real people with great driving records and a knack for hospitality.
You also get to ride up front in a Lyft. As the car pulls up with its unique pink mustache on the front (as John says, “it always brings a smile!”), you jump in the front seat and do a ceremonial fistbump with the driver. You are offered a phone charger and the chance to play DJ for the ride. Many of the drivers I’ve ridden with even offer something unique and fun like Capri Suns or snacks for the road.
Lyft is a real community – with both the drivers and riders being inherently social – making real friendships and saving money.