Ride Wall is a ride-sharing service made exclusively for college students that sets itself apart from the typical ride-sharing platform.
The free service allows users to seek or offer rides with users headed in the same direction. It offers drivers a chance to make some extra cash by charging for rides and gives students without a car a resource for finding transportation.
“It’s very valuable. More valuable, I think, for freshman who don’t have cars,” co-owner Dane Howard said.
“There’s already companies out there that charge schools a lot of money to use their service and I feel their platform isn’t exactly worth what they’re charging. I think a free service is more powerful and more beneficial to students.”
Howard, a freshman computer science major from Haymarket, Va., was at a party when he met his business partner, Daniel Calabro. The two were visiting mutual friends when they began discussing their mutual passion for entrepreneurship.
Howard mentioned he designed his own website company, Morning Sky CRM, a customer relations management system that keeps track of company sales, contacts and other essential facets of running a business. His programming prowess prompted Calabro to invite Howard in on Ride Wall.
Calabro, a former ODU student who transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University to study in the entrepreneurship program, was one of three members of Campus Wise that won a $15,000 stipend from Norfolk based mentor-based start up accelerator Hatch in February 2013.
As a freshman at ODU, Calabro said, not having a car made travelling home to Northern Virginia was a hassle, so he wanted to implement a service that was safe, convenient and appealing to students.
He said the service has seen a significant, positive turnout with many students already signing up. The simplicity of the site and ease of finding rides, or offering them, is what makes the service the most attractive.
“The impact this service will have on students will be a game changer since we have made it open hub allowing students to find verified drivers from not only their own university but other ones across the country,” Calabro said.
“We believe that this will be an industry changer since it will solve a problem that has exist for such a longtime. Seeing this service serve this option will provide something I wasn’t able to have when I was freshman.”
Users can create a profile and a messaging system on the site allows users to get to know drivers and riders before they get in the car. It will also feature a driver and rider ranking system. They plan to connect with the DMV so drivers can register their vehicles with the site, ensuring users that each driver has a license and is in good standing. They plan to get connected to Facebook and other social media in the next month.
Howard said the service has numerous benefits like reducing CO2 emissions, saving money and, above all, saving lives by using the service to find designated drivers. This aspect of the service touches him personally.
In 2010, Howard’s best friend, Derek Meffert, died in a car accident on his way to a concert with friends. The driver of the vehicle was intoxicated and speeding when he lost control of the vehicle and was struck by an oncoming car.
“My best friend shouldn’t have died that night,” Howard said. “Knowing that I’m in a position now that it can help stop that… that would be full circle for me to know that I could save someone else’s life.”
Howard and Calabro are still working out the technological functionalities, developing an authentication system for students to log in, and polishing up the look of the site. They hope to have an official launch of the service in the fall of 2014.
“I’m excited to see this grow and I’m excited to be a part of this,” Howard said. “Hopefully it really gets big and I can say that I helped save some lives and helped people out.”
By: Derek Page