In an attempt to make the commuting process simpler for college students, Nelson Azoulay ’09 is in the process of preparing a new smartphone app called “RydeHopper.” The app will create a peer-to-peer ride sharing platform for students attending college in Connecticut.
This app is set to launch in the coming weeks after administering beta tests and evaluating its success.
“The app is open for people with ‘.edu’ email addresses in the Connecticut college market,” Azoulay said. “We have a list of 32 colleges.”
This app was created as part of the Columbia Startup Lab hosted by Columbia University. After preliminary planning, Azoulay used the lab to advance the startup and talk to mentors and lawyers about creating RydeHopper.
He explained that he did not want to make just an ordinary app for transportation.
“I wanted not just a ride sharing app, but a safe one,” Azoulay said.
The app also creates an opportunity for students who want to make some extra cash, as students have the opportunity to sign up their car on campus and become a driver.
“If you have a car on campus and have no classes that day, you can [check the app],” Azoulay said. “You just look at the app and see that there are 65 people going to the train station. Well, you can drive them and make money.”
Christian Freire ’09 spoke to the benefits of RydeHopper. When he was a student, he found that he did not use his car very often, and as a result finds the idea of RydeHopper appealing.
“My car spent the majority of the year collecting dust in the parking lot,” Freire said. “RydeHopper would have given me the opportunity to make some extra money on the side by giving rides to my fellow classmates during the week or even shared the ride when going home.”
In order for students to effectively use the app, users are responsible for designating dates and times of departure and return, so other riders as well as drivers can collaborate and ride together. Users can also see rides available from neighboring universities.
Azoulay further explained that payments for the different rides will vary. If the trip originates from the rider, the rider will designate a price and the driver can accept or reject it. Or, the driver can offer a certain number of seats for a fixed price. He added that in the first few months, payment is restricted to the use of cards, so that payment can be made directly through the app.
“It can be short distances or long distances,” Azoulay said. “The point is for people to be able to leave campus when they want to.”
RydeHopper is still in the process of expanding its team, hoping to hire paid college ambassadors and iOS developers.
Although there are similar apps out there for students to find a ride off-campus, such as Uber and Wheeli, Azoulay explained that RydeHopper is different in that it is only geared toward the Connecticut colleges.
“I love the concept of RydeHopper,” said Miller Nuttle ’09. “I remember trying all sorts of half-functional ride-sharing sites to get home or offer rides from Wesleyan. Even when they worked, the sites were super clunky. It’s great that an easy-to-use and safe platform will finally hit the market for college students—I just wish Nelson had gotten it together to invent this when we were still at Wes.”