Interview with South Carolina Startup: Ridepost

There are a lot of startups out there trying to challenge everyday corporate models like the hotel and the car with peer to peer sharing services. Ridepost, a South Carolina startup incubating at Iron Yard, is looking to enter the world of peer to peer vehicle sharing. Sure there are other startups tackling the same issue, but it’s going to come down to scalability, go to market strategy and execution.

Ridepost will eliminate the need for a taxicab and other for hire vehicle services by connecting passengers and drivers in a safe and social setting.

Ridesharing in this setting isn’t new around the world, just in the US. In fact it was traveling abroad where Ridepost co-founder Marty Bauer, first experienced ride sharing and wanted to bring this money saving way to travel back to the U.S. Bauer realized that ride sharing wasn’t about getting in the car with strangers it was about traveling.

We got a chance to talk with Blair Deckard, Ridepost co-founder and head of marketing, about their startup. Check out the interview below:

What is Ridepost?
RidePost is an online marketplace connecting drivers and passengers for safe and social ridesharing. We’re on a mission to change the way people travel.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Marty Bauer – Co-founder and CEO
Marty is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from Wofford College where he was a four-year starter in football and a member of the track team. Marty’s background includes financial experience both in public organizations as well as a rapidly growing consumer brand startup. He earned his International MBA with co-founders Blair and Nik at the University of South Carolina where he concentrated in entrepreneurship and more than occasional fly-fishing trips. Traveling the world while earning an MBA fueled Marty’s passion for changing the way people travel. Marty is currently Co-Founder and CEO at RidePost.
Nik Budisavljevic – Co-founder and Head of Business Development
Nik’s family emigrated from Bosnia & Herzegovina to Charleston in the 1990s. He attended Duke University where he studied History and Markets & Management while competing on the Varsity Track & Field team. Nik completed his JD and IMBA from the University of South Carolina where he concentrated in Corporate and International Law, Finance and Entrepreneurship. He is currently Co-Founder and Head of Business Development for RidePost.
Blair Deckard – Co-founder and Head of Marketing
Blair graduated from Denison University with a degree in International Studies and Spanish. She then moved to San Francisco where she worked for branding and design firm Iron Creative Communication. Blair graduated from the University of South Carolina’s IMBA Program in May 2012 with concentrations in Marketing, Global Management, and Entrepreneurship. She is currently Co-Founder and Head of Marketing for RidePost.
Robert Pearce – Co-founder and CTO
Robert is a guitar playing, wave riding, USC English major turned web developer. He is a co-founder and CTO of RidePost, Inc. and is also the President of Pearce Web Development, LLC. He likes short walks on the beach and hates deadlines more than you.
Where are you based?
RidePost is based in Greenville, South Carolina.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
RidePost is one of ten companies in The Iron Yard – a startup accelerator based in Greenville, SC. As a member of The Iron Yard, RidePost has had access to dozens of mentors and investors from around the country, the majority of which have roots in Greenville, SC. Greenville is an extremely vibrant and supportive startup scene. We are finding we are one of many companies that has recently made the move to Greenville, and we have access to big city amenities with a small-town feel. Here is a piece that Chris Brank recently created when TechCrunch came to visit Greenville and The Iron Yard. You can see an interview from our CEO, Marty Bauer, at the :25 mark.
How did you come up with the idea for RidePost?
It all started when Marty was living abroad just last year. One weekend, his friend convinced him to rideshare. Marty was hesitant to hop in the car with strangers, but he had his friend with him, and he couldn’t resist the cheaper fare that comes with ridesharing. So he went for it. All five seats in the car were full – two Germans, two Americans, and a Chinese women who had all of her belongings in a single suitcase. This one trip changed everything about Marty’s travel experience. He had an awesome time, and he realized that ridesharing wasn’t about riding with strangers. It was about getting where you wanted to go, with people who have something in common: a love of travel. Because of this trip, Marty spent his remaining weekends exploring Europe and Southeast Asia using ridesharing as his proven method of transportation. Not only did he meet people from all walks of life, but he could afford to see more than he ever could have dreamed on the budget of a student.
So when Marty got back to the U.S. to finish his MBA program, he realized, how do we bring ridesharing to the U.S. market? Ridesharing isn’t a new concept – especially in other parts of the world. Bringing ridesharing to U.S. culture would require a special touch. He recruited his team – Nik, Blair, and Robert – and they have been working on reinventing the ridesharing model for the U.S. ever since.
What problem does RidePost solve?
80% of cars are on the road have just one person in the car – the driver. Meaning that on average there are three empty seats in every car. Additionally, the transportation systems of the U.S. are outdated: they are expensive and extremely susceptible to shortages and delays. RidePost is looking to solve all of this. By connecting people to share rides, we are bringing down not only the cost of transportation, but the occurrence of single person trips. Fewer cars on the road means less pollution and congestion for communities. RidePost is going to change the way people travel by making it more affordable, and by increasing access to mobility.
What’s your secret sauce?
Our secret sauce is in our safety features and our go to market strategy. At RidePost, safety is our number one priority. We are busy stacking our site with layers of transparency so that users know exactly who they are getting into the car with, before the trip begins. Facebook log-in, email and phone authentications, and our post-trip peer review and rating system are required. But our features don’t stop there: users will have the option to have a background check conducted on them, and publish this to their user profile. Additionally, we are working on countless other safety features and will have other exciting announcements soon! Our goal is to give users the tools they need to be safe.

Our competitors each have their individual approach to bringing ridesharing to market. We think that RidePost – in offering a free, open platform – is best positioned to take ridesharing mainstream. We are working directly with Universities, events planners, local businesses, and community leaders to bring ridesharing mainstream. We supply these leaders with the tools they need to make ridesharing a success.

This is a concept that has to happen from a grassroots level, and we are doing everything in our power to enable these entities to build a ridesharing community that fits their specific transportation needs.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
Where to start is a big dilemma. We see so many incredible opportunities, yet we have had to painstakingly prioritize which problems to tackle first. This has forced us to focus on the top of our list and work our way down, one solution at a time. This tactic works well in keeping us focused, but it is hard to see those other opportunities out there, ripe for the taking. We know we’ll get there one day. The first step is in identifying these pain points for consumers. Some of the problems we are addressing are huge. And as we have seen with other companies in the marketplace, it is not a winner-takes-all market. How we satisfy the needs of our users is essential to the success of RidePost and the success of ridesharing in the U.S.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Proving to some of the most conservative stakeholders that our business model and our plan of execution are the right way to proceed. However, because we have developed the proper technology, team, and plan, we have begun to attract significant interest from unlikely sources in our business model and our vision.
What’s the first thing you would do for RidePost with a one million dollar investment?
Keep executing our plan the way we are today. Money is an accelerant, not a life changer. Closing a one million dollar round would allow us to focus on product development, faster.

What’s next for RidePost?

Right now we are focused on building the best ridesharing site out there. We want anyone who needs a ride to be able to find a seat on RidePost. But RidePost isn’t limited to ridesharing. We feel that anywhere there is an open seat, we can fill that inefficiency. Anywhere there is transportation, we are going to disrupt that market for the better.
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