Twin Cities Business – The Quest to Make Ridesharing Free – Twin Cities Business Magazine


Rob Flessner has an formidable objective: To make ridesharing free by 2021. And he and his colleagues are assured they will make it occur by way of digital promoting in driverless automobiles.

Flessner is co-founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based rideshare promoting platform Vugo, which makes use of its patented JourneyIntent know-how to show focused ads to Uber and Lyft passengers on a pill hooked up to the again of the car’s headrests. Flessner, James Bellefeuille, Michael Dillon and Eugene Kurdzesau based the corporate in 2015 to improve riders’ experiences and assist rideshare drivers earn additional revenue. But because the market shifts, Vugo is shifting its focus with it.

The firm’s founders predict that inside the subsequent few years, all ridesharing automobiles within the U.S. shall be driverless, and in-car promoting tailor-made to passengers’ locations and pursuits will lead to free transportation. “The idea is to put brands in front of passengers who are en route to make purchases,” says Flessner. For instance, retailers will sponsor transportation to their shops to allow them to preview merchandise to clients who’re headed their method.

The prediction isn’t as far-fetched because it sounds. In the previous yr, corporations akin to Ford, Lyft and Uber have introduced plans to launch self-driving automobiles over the subsequent few years, particularly for ridesharing. This previous summer time, General Motors started testing a beta model for an app that permits clients to hail its self-driving automobiles, and in late September, Ford introduced its partnership with Lyft to deploy self-driving automobiles for ridesharing by 2021.

The value to function autonomous automobiles is 20 cents per mile, says Flessner, with no labor prices. Currently, Vugo pays drivers who use its platform 60 % of its promoting income. The firm makes use of a price-per-impression (CPM) construction, which is about $25 per 1,000 impressions. For a full-time driver, it may possibly equate to $100 to $300 per thirty days; Vugo presently has about 10,000 drivers in its community.

“We have already started communicating with automakers about how we can bring Vugo into self-driving cars to engage riders,” says Flessner. His objective is to ultimately have the platform embedded into automobiles as they’re manufactured.

Until self-driving automobiles turn into mainstream, the corporate is shifting its focus from partnering with particular person drivers to direct partnerships with rideshare corporations and corporations that function fleets, comparable to taxi cabs and airport shuttles. “We learned that there is an extremely high turnover rate among rideshare drivers,” explains Flessner. “About 50 percent quit within three months.”

In the subsequent yr, Vugo will add greater than 40,000 automobiles to its community by means of pilot packages with three main rideshare corporations. Flessner can’t disclose the businesses, however one is in Southeast Asia, one other within the Middle East and the third is within the U.S. He hopes to increase into a further two to three worldwide markets comparatively quickly. “There are 8 million rideshare drivers globally,” says Flessner. “And most of the market is international.”

Vugo estimates there are about 500,000 rideshare drivers within the U.S., leaving loads of alternative to develop domestically. In reality, a lot of the drivers in Vugo’s community reside in Los Angeles, regardless that the corporate is predicated in Minneapolis. But with the Super Bowl just a few months away, Flessner says they’re ramping up their efforts within the Twin Cities.

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