A new Boston-based startup wants to change the way people think about commuting.
Launched in November 2017, tripBuddy is an app that let people carpool together to their workplaces or even just to the grocery store. Users simply organize a ride stating where they are coming from, where they are going and how many seats they have to offer.
Tawheed Abdul-Raheem, co-founder of tripBuddy, began to feel disappointed with traditional transportation while he was attending Fitchburg State University. He didn’t have a car and the campus bus was unreliable, he said, so he found himself having a tough time getting around.
When he entered the workforce, finding a solution to his mobility needs became more urgent. After graduation, Abdul-Raheem started working for Oracle Corporation in Burlington, Massachusetts and quickly became frustrated with his nearly 50-mile daily commute from Worcester.
“I hated my drive,” Abdul-Raheem said. “It just drove me nuts, because most of the time when I looked to my left and my right there was only one person sitting in the car. ”
From looking at other drivers and passengers, Abdul-Raheem realized that there are unknown connections between the itineraries of solo drivers. He created an algorithm to connect drivers and riders in the same area, and tripBuddy was born.
In addition to affordability, safety is a goal of the company, according to Abdul-Raheem. To create an account on the app, users must pass a background check before they can drive or ride. Once in the app, users can decide to drive a caravan of coworkers to the office or chose to relax in the backseat of someone else’s car. Users can be both drivers and riders, but it’s the driver who sets the price for the ride (with a maximum cost of 52 cents per mile).
Alex Ferro, tripBuddy’s other co-founder, met Abdul-Raheem in a freshman math course at Fitchburg. The two reconnected while both working at Oracle. Ferro said that when Abdul-Raheem approached him with the idea it didn’t take too much convincing.
“There are other ride sharing applications out there, but this is more of a platform that we are hoping to offer toward enterprises to offer as a benefits package.”
“I thought it was a great idea,” Ferro said. “There are other ride sharing applications out there, but this is more of a platform that we are hoping to offer toward enterprises to offer as a benefits package. Especially in Boston, the congestion is growing out of control and everybody knows it’s an inconvenience to get stuck in traffic. And we want to reduce those harmful emissions into the environment.”
Abdul-Raheem said that the current goal of tripBuddy is to partner with companies to promote the service to their staff. Currently, the company is having conversations with multiple Boston corporations and commercial landlords.
The company has been reliant on bootstrap funding coming out of Abdul-Raheem’s pocket. In January, tripBuddy entered into the reSET Impact Accelerator in Hartford, Connecticut. The 4-month program will provide monthly summits with the chance to win up to $20,000 in funding. Ferro said he hopes this opportunity will help expand tripBuddy into the Connecticut market.
“What we want to do is democratize transportation,” Abdul-Raheem said. “In the next year, our goal is [to partner with] any college or any employer that cares about sustainability.”