Innovation is all around us, especially in our hometown of Richmond, Va.
From startups creatively connecting with customers to Fortune 500s reinventing their core processes, our Rhudy & Co. team is inspired by the entrepreneurial approaches in #RVA. This year, we've launched a blog series, "RVA Innovators – Inspiring Rhudy & Co" to share more about these innovators.
Making Uber and Lyft better
Taking Uber and Lyft to the next level, a local Richmond innovator – Matt Donlon, founder and CEO of UZURV, developed a reservation services app that allows you to “UZURV” your ride in advance.
UZURV is headquartered in the historic Hofheimer Building in Scott's Addition. Originating in Richmond in 2015, the service has quickly grown and UZURV is now in 108 cities across the country. About 23,000 drivers are using it.
“It’s really gone viral,” Donlon said. “Part of that success is that we are investing in our drivers. They have a business card and a code they give to introduce people to UZURV. Customers get their first three rides free and the driver gets residual income – 7 percent of all future reservations just for introducing that customer to UZURV.”
Hatching an idea
And while Uber and Lyft and other ride-sharing disrupters have been challenged in court in several localities, the 2017 Virginia General Assembly passed the legal framework to allow UZURV to be recognized as the first Transportation Network Company broker in the nation, pre-arranging rides with specific Uber or Lyft drivers.
Donlon himself continues to serve as an Uber driver – where he and his partner, Harold Frans, hatched the idea for UZURV and where he can best keep his hand on the pulse of the business. He gave former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton her first UZURV ride to the train station.
How UZURV works
- UZURV only handles reservations and does not provide transportation directly. Think of it as the “Open Table” for ride reservations.
- After downloading the app to your smartphone, you can request a pick up date and time well in advance of your trip.
- Another cool thing about UZURV is that you can select your favorite driver as well as services and amenities you are seeking in a car service – infant car seat, military base access, etc. You select the service you want to use – Uber or Lyft and the service type (size and/or luxury vehicle) and add an incentive (it automatically starts at $3; you can make it more or less).
- The only downside for our instant gratification-seeking selves is that you have to wait for a driver to accept the reservation and the only way you will know is by checking back on the app.
With a recent Richmond airport trip requiring a 6 a.m. departure, I wanted to ensure I didn’t have to wait 15 minutes, when I summoned my ride.
Three drivers accepted my reservation and I selected “Kristen,” had an online iPhone “chat” with her to confirm details and describe my house. The process was seamless; she was at my door before 6 a.m. and delivered me to the airport for less than $20.
The app is available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play store. To find out more, go to https://uzurv.com/
Sande Snead frequently ubers to local restaurants especially downtown where parking and walking in heels can add to the value of paying for a ride. She UZURVs for early morning airport departures or destinations further afield.