SmartRide offers a premiere designated driving service that allows people to enjoy their nights out while not having to worry about safe, reliable transportation home. They understand their clientele lead busy lives and prefer convenience. SmartRide eliminates the need for the customer to leave their car somewhere overnight or pay for a taxicab to and from their destination.
MO: Congratulations on your upcoming launch! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for SmartRide?
Matt: We didn’t re-invent the wheel. To be honest with you, we just got tired of going out in town, and constantly finding ourselves searching tirelessly for a cab. Then waking up the next morning and bothering someone to give us rides back to our car. We thought to ourselves, why not start a driving service that allows us to receive guaranteed pick-up times, and have your car home with you. Designated driving services have been around for a while, and are in many different cities. We just realized the need for Columbia, and worked hard at developing a service that would work in this community. By providing a service for a growing niche market, providing excellent customer service and processes, at a comfortable price point, we hope to capture a significant market share from traditional services.
MO: Can you talk about the development process from having the initial concept to creating a business around it? What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way and how have you overcome them?
Matt: Starting a business is a lot of work. There is not an easier way to say it. We have learned so much in the process, both good and bad. I would estimate this has been about a 2 year process from when my business partner and I starting discussing the business to where we are today. When you are creating a business it truly is on your mind 24/7. I learned over the last few years when you indulge yourself in creating your business that you tend to get tunnel vision. We realized that you need to give yourself a chance to take a break and recharge your mind. When we did that, we were able to start back up with a clearer mind. But this whole experience has been exciting. I think some of the biggest challenges we have faced have been legal and insurance issues. Our service involves transporting people in their own personal property, so that definitely involves risk, however we have been extremely diligent in developing processes and training for both employees and customers, to minimize risk and lead to a more enjoyable experience. Another challenge is hiring employees. We have learned being a start-up, during interviews you are both an interviewer and a salesman. You need to be selling your vision and passion while at the same time screening for quality people.
MO: What separates SmartRide from an ordinary taxi service?
Matt: SmartRide aims to change the way people get home. Like I mentioned earlier, we understand our clientele lead busy lives and prefer convenience. SmartRide drives the customer home in their own vehicle eliminating the need to leave their car somewhere overnight, and pay for a taxi to and from their destination. We are a reservation based service. There will be no need to search tirelessly for a taxi. We guarantee our pick up times. We invested heavily in technology, with an informative and user friendly website. Through our partnership with ScooterGuy, we are Beta testing a customer App where customers can reserve a ride, and track in real time their ride status through their smart phone.
MO: Can you talk about some of the unique packages that you offer for sporting events?
Matt: We have partnered with services in St. Louis in Kansas City and plan to offer special /sporting event packages. This will include round trip transportation from Columbia. Also, our drivers will set-up your tailgate, and while your inside the stadium enjoying the game, our driver will clean-up your tailgate and pick you and your party up while you are leaving the stadium. This will allow you to beat the traffic as you head out of town. We will drive customers just about anywhere they so desire.
MO: What are some of the advantages of becoming a SmartRide member?
Matt: A membership through SmartRide gives you a discounted fare for every ride. (25%) There is no limit to the number of rides you can take. Members can also reserve a ride in advance, prior to the day of use. This will be beneficial during that busy holiday season, and when there are special events going on in Columbia, in particular Mizzou Football games. Also, members receive guaranteed pick-up times. No more wandering the streets searching for a taxi, fight the crowds.
MO: If I could grant you one business related wish right now, what would you ask for?
Matt: A steady stream of customers’ right??? In all seriousness I just want to get the community to understand our service and the benefits that it provides to them personally, as well as keeping the community a safer place. My hope is that once we get someone to try out our service, they will be hooked. Repeat business is crucial. We understand our service requires a level of trust with our customers, and hope to gain that trust after their first ride home. We like having fun, going out with friends, and entertaining clients just as much as everyone else. So we wanted to provide a service that gives people the peace of mind knowing they have safe transportation home for themselves, their friends, and their clients.
MO: Thanks for your time and good luck!
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