After three months of hard work as part of the Carma Axlr8r, nine carpooling start-ups are ready to showcase their efforts to bring ‘sustainable mobility’ to the masses.
The nine accelerators have come from almost all corners of the globe, including Rwanda, Paraguay, the US and Russia, all with their own take on how carpooling and ridesharing can make cities more easily commutable where, in many places, the infrastructure is just not up to the job.
The teams will be graduating from the world’s first carpooling and sustainable transportation start-up accelerator funded by Cork-based global venture capital fund SOSventures Investments, which, along with the start-ups, will work closely with the Carma Carpooling development team to build effective ridesharing solutions for local markets.
The nine teams will then present their products and platforms to a range of investors, environmental policy experts, lawmakers and technologists.
Giving an example of one of the start-ups, Rwanda-based SafeMotos is not only attempting to make motorcycle taxis significantly safer through their app, which allows you to rate the driver, but also allows people in the country’s capital city, Kigali, to hail a taxi from the app, much like Hailo here in Ireland.
Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com about the type of applications they were receiving, the accelerator’s programme manager, Conor Walsh, said it was a pleasant surprise to get such a diverse range of start-ups.
“Given the location of most of the prominent ride-hailing apps out there, we were expecting a real North American and real European applicant pool and we were pleasantly surprised. It was one of those moments when you hit your head and say ‘D’oh!’, like Homer Simpson, as they’re the places where there are real problems and real transportation issues.”
The Uber question
The obvious question when the topic of carpooling or ridesharing apps comes up is how start-ups will be able to compete in an already competitive field, with the likes of Uber already establishing itself in 56 countries across the world.
Is Uber et al too large for the little guys to compete with? No, according to Walsh, because the Carma Axlr8r start-ups have something Uber doesn’t have: local knowledge.
“They have networks on the ground in their cities. So the way you start a commuting start-up, you need to have people in one city together. That’s really where this burgeoning ecosystem is going so you can work with municipalities and the local people.
“There are people who want to go the Uber route and bleed money in lawsuits and that doesn’t work for most people and isn’t a great way to make friends. We see localisation as one of the interesting ways in which transportation is moving in.”
Of course, anyone with their finger on the pulse of all things automotive tech will know that there’s been a lot of talk about the potential for driverless cars as a way of turning the daily commute into a carpooling experience.
Given the accelerator’s desire to develop sustainable services that can solve the problem of the ever-growing number of cars on our roads, it’s Walsh’s opinion, quite understandably, that while the technology is promising, it remains nothing but an idea for most of the world.
“I think that while driverless cars would be wonderful to see, realistically, if they are to roll out it will be a long time before they reach the developing markets and, frankly, if we are concerned about climate change, about quality of life, driverless cars aren’t going to make it to the cities that have those problems right away,” he says.
The nine start-ups taking part in the Carma Axlr8r:
Disclaimer: SOSventures is an investor in Silicon Republic
Carpool lane image via Shutterstock