This NYC Startup Raised $11M For The Ride Sharing Economy



No, it’s not another Uber or Lyft. It’s more like car-pooling for medium or long distance travel. For people who need a ride or have one to share.

Tripda connects regular people who are making trips to the same basic destination, so that everyone wins: the driver, the passenger or passengers, and the planet. Plus a Tripda ride is cheaper, simpler, greener, safer, faster, and friendlier than other forms of travel.

Well, faster, depending on who’s driving, of course.

Tripda allows participants to reduce their travel costs, meet new friends and conveniently reach their destination, all in a super simple, cool, and environmentally friendly way. You can even find out a bit about the people you’re potentially traveling with, before you set out together. After all, it’s not just about the trip – it’s about the journey, too.

Tripda is also global and rapidly expanding throughout North America, Latin America and Asia.

And wasn’t it Lao Tzu who said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Tripda?

CEO and cofounder Adi Vaxman tells us why the word on Tripda is getting around.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

Rocket Internet (the world’s largest internet incubator) funded our seed round in early 2014. Other than Rocket Internet, we had a prominent undisclosed tier-1 US based venture fund participate in this round. They are usually a late-stage investor and are not used to investing in early-stage ventures, however, they are big believers and are actively providing insight and support. Our round A was announced late January, for $11M.

Tell us about your service.

Tripda is a genuine ride-sharing and carpooling platform for long-distance travel. Our mobile and web app are a marketplace, matching drivers offering rides and passengers looking to go the same way. Drivers can offer empty seats in their cars on trips they are already making, and passengers can search and book seats on rides that are already going where they need to go.

Both sides have plenty of information available on the platform to select the travel companions they’d like to ride with, they can read reviews that other travelers wrote, see other users’ affiliation with any organization, such as a college or a corporation, view their Facebook profile, check if they have any mutual friends, or choose to communicate with them directly before the trip.

Tripda gives both drivers and passengers the opportunity to use convenient transportation, share gas, tolls and parking expenses and reduce traffic and pollution, as well as make a new friend along the way.

How is it different?

The short answer is that we’re a genuine ride-sharing community, putting existing rides and resources to good use by sharing rides that are already happening. But here’s the long answer. The term ride-sharing has been hijacked by taxi-like services who turn regular people into taxi drivers. Whereas Uber and Lyft type of services turn promote semi-professional taxi drivers and turn driving into a business, Tripda doesn’t. Our drivers are regular people who are already planning to drive to a destination but have empty seats in their vehicles. All we do is help them offer those empty seats in their cars to others interested in traveling the same route. Think of us as a matching service between drivers offering routes and passengers looking to go the same way. Tripda is a real ride-sharing solution that makes use of existing under-utilized resources to fill a gap in our public transportation infrastructure.


What market you are targeting and how big is it?

80% of cars on US highways are only occupied by the driver. According to census data, carpooling percentage across the US ranged between 1-15% at best. Tripda fills a gap that currently exists within the US transportation infrastructure, allowing people to make better use of resources that already exist to make travel accessible and convenient not only in major routes.

Tripda already operates in 13 countries across Latin America and Asia (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Philippines, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, and of course here in the US). In the seven months following our initial launch (of our first operation in Brazil), we already have over 70,000 registered users, facilitated rides for tens of thousands of passengers, and have an average of 150,000 ride searches per month.

We launched our U.S. pilot last November and are seeing great interest and traction since then, including a growth rate of over 100% each month.

In which New York borough is the service being used the most?

Tripda is for medium to long distance rides. There are many popular routes around the NYC metro area, including the surrounding suburbs where people commute from into the city. We’re talking northern NJ, Long Island, Westchester, Hudson and Rockland counties. There are also many rides between the NY metro and other major metro areas such as Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Most rides going into New York end either in Manhattan or Brooklyn. We are even offering three months of free garage parking in NYC to anyone who commutes and carpools with Tripda, to encourage people to stop driving alone (for details: nyc.tripda.com)

What other cities have you expanded to and which cities are next?

Tripda is a nationwide service, where supply and demand are matched and limited only by where people are actually traveling. We are currently focused on the Northeast, as well as certain major routes on the West Coast, but we never rule out any region where ride-sharing is a need or a solution. We’re focused on consolidating our communities and leadership in the markets where we operate, and we develop the routes that our users need the most.

What’s your business model?

Tripda doesn’t currently monetize on our platform. We don’t collect any fees from drivers or users. The transaction is purely between them, while we simply provide the platform and the services to make it a smooth and secure transaction. We are fully focused on getting people to try and experience the many advantages of ride-sharing, in a way that will change the way people think about travel. In the future, we will possibly take a small matching fee, but the specifics for that are still undecided.

What was the funding process like?

Both of our investors have significant stakes and are highly committed. Their participation in the round is a testament of their confidence in Tripda. For a young company, we are very proud of what we have been able to achieve and for the support and guidance of our investors. We are constantly approached by additional investors who are interested in participating, and feel very lucky about the exciting opportunities ahead.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

Our biggest challenge was that our model was unproven to work in the US, even though it had been and is very successful in other markets. Any marketplace type platform faces that tough equation of matching supply and demand. We were constantly being asked: “While this is a fabulous, necessary and logical idea, how will you succeed where others have failed?” Our answer is that we believe we have the right timing, the right team, the right support and the capital we need in order to make Tripda a success in all the markets we choose to pursue. I guess our ability to close our series A round as quickly as we did shows that our investors share this belief.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Rocket Internet is known for identifying and building proven Internet business models and transferring them to new or untapped markets, seeking to scale them into leading online companies. Tripda fit this profile in many ways. Our solution satisfies basic consumer needs and has the ability to scale. Our markets are large and the timing is right for our service to be accepted and adopted across all markets.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

Our team is really excited to continue our growth and deepen our roots in all of the markets we operate in. The opportunity in the US is massive, and we are receiving extremely positive feedback across the board. We plan to focus our efforts in optimizing the supply-demand equilibrium, while improving our product and our user experience. We want consumers across all of our markets to see that ride-sharing can be a standard and mainstream form of transportation for medium to long distance rides.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Hire the best team you can find to push your business forward, no matter what. Learn your business by analyzing and re-analyzing data from multiple sources to understand what works and what doesn’t. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t miss out on that opportunity to learn from (and quickly correct!) them.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

We are very focused on growing and strengthening our operations in all existing markets. And of course we’ll be evaluating new markets individually to explore additional expansion. Our main mission is to make ride-sharing a viable, mainstream and safe transportation method. We want to give people the tools to make friends, protect the earth, save money, and enjoy the whole experience – from their doorstep to their journey’s end.

Which is your favorite NYC bar?

Any bar where the designated driver shares their ride on Tripda and gets their buddies home safe at the end of the night. :)

About the author: AlleyWatch

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