When you live in Dallas and own a car, you typically rely on that as your main mode of transportation, sometimes without even thinking. But with the rise of alternate transportation, people have begun to research their options when it comes to getting around the city.
The problem with so many new options- like Lyft, Uber, Bike Share, etc.- beginning to sprout is that it can be difficult to know if you’re picking the right mode of transportation to meet your needs. That’s where Joseph Kopser, CEO and co-founder of RideScout (an app that let’s you see all of your different ground transportation options in one place), stepped in.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Kopser during a candid phone interview. He resides in Austin with his family and though he wasn’t born here, as we Texans like to say, ‘he got here as quick as he could’.
And he’s certainly adapted well to Austin’s culture over the years, describing himself as a “boots, booze, and blue jeans” guy. “I don’t think we’ll ever move outside of Austin,” Kopser said, “I love it too much down here.” When I asked him what he loved so much about Austin he replied, “Willie Nelson says it best, that Austin’s where the hippies and the cowboys can come together. It’s the crossroads of so many things.” He had me at Willie Nelson.
Kopser went on to tell me about his education at West Point. He earned his degree in Aerospace Engineering. “That shaped how my brain looks at the world and how I try to solve problems,” Kopser said. And that kind of thinking would come in handy during the conception of RideScout.
“I tried to tackle the conflict of too-crowded roads and people going first to their car,” Kopser said, “76% of the cars on the road only have one person in them.” He began to think of all of the different ways to get around a city and decided that if people could see their options all in one place, that it would make things easier.
So in 2012 Kopser and co-founder Craig Cummings took their business plan to The Hatch Pitch Competition at South By Southwest in Austin and walked away with 2nd place. “That win gave us the ability and validation to raise money that we needed to hire some development firms to build our first version,” Kopser said, “which I would call our Alpha model- not even Beta because it was so primitive”. RideScout has also attended the last two South By Southwest conferences- each time gaining more recognition and affirmation.
Today RideScout is available in over 69 cities and continues to grow each day. “We provide all of the basics and all of the options that the city has to offer,” Kopser explained, “So we provide all the public transit using the same icons and logos that the people in that city are familiar with, whatever colored lines or numbered lines that people are used to seeing. We also provide at least one taxi or ride for hire option.”
So what does RideScout look like in the Big D? “In Dallas, the app is fully integrated with DART,” Kopser said, “And that’s really the backbone of the Dallas region when it comes to public transit. In Fort Worth you have public transit and the Forth Worth Bike Share. Taxi options are also available in both cities.” The app provides time estimates for driving as well as biking and walking time, so you can weigh your options based on your schedule.
“The app has involved a lot of complex engineering,” Kopser said, “We have so many views it makes our engineers want to pull their hair out. You can see views by map, lists, calendar, time, cost, arrival, and more”.
Though RideScout Dallas has limited transportation options to choose from right now, Kopser sees that changing in the near future. “We’re hoping that by introducing RideScout into the city that we’re going to be able to encourage other private ride providers to get involved,” he said, “But hopefully we’ll also allow people to learn from the experience.”
He speaks positively about the chance for RideScout to improve and grow business in the area. “If people had a reliable way to get down to and from nightlife and events, shopping and restaurant sales could increase,” Kopser said, “People could leave their car at home and reduce the incidence of drunk driving, increase bar sales and dinner receipts. I think it’s a win-win for cities.”
Sounds like a move in the right direction to me. What are your opinions on the app? Share your thoughts in the comments.