The future of transportation, according Brian Schiff ’18, doesn’t lie only on our roads — it’s also on our phones.
“People want to know their social life in real time — where their friends are, what they’re doing, what’s going on around them,” Schiff said. “We’re trying to create a platform that enhances the transportation experience.”
This proposal is the premise of RedRoute, a startup Schiff founded in March 2015 with Karl Reis ’18, Leor Alon ’18 and Samuel Krut, a student at U.C. Davis.
Similar to Uber, RedRoute partners with local taxi companies to provide easy cab access in college towns, according to Schiff. In Ithaca, they work in conjunction with Ithaca Dispatch, Ithaca’s largest taxi company.
“We’ve shown an ability to transfer people that are used to getting on the phone and calling dispatchers to get a ride to doing it through the app,” Schiff said. “But there’s a very clear line in the sand now where you come to Cornell, you don’t call a taxi, you use RedRoute.”
Cornellians can already download the RedRoute app and use its transportation services, and the company plans to unveil its social media platform — which will be a “core aspect” of the app — in the fall, according to Schiff.
“You open RedRoute and instead of seeing a map with drivers on it, you’re going to see your social feed,” he said.
Schiff added that the app, functioning much like Venmo, will connect to users’ accounts on other social media platforms, in addition to having its own feed.
“We’re basically creating this intersection between social media and ride hailing,” Schiff said. “It’s really a hub for your social life, and that’s really the vision of where it’s going.”
RedRoute’s ambitions for expansion do not stop at Ithaca’s borders. After a successful test run in March, the startup is looking to broaden its markets and plans to launch in Syracuse this fall, according to Schiff.
“It kind of organically got a lot bigger … on its own, to the point where we had 1,500 downloads by the end of the semester,” he said. “We were having hundreds of ride requests every single week. It blew away our expectations.”
Schiff added that the significant support of several local investors and Cornell’s eLab program has helped the now five-person team — composed of its four founders and Sydney Allen ’18 — to improve its product.
“By the taxi companies shifting to RedRoute and customers using RedRoute, the experience has gotten better in almost every single category across the board,” Sciff said. “We were just a group of college students that wanted to start something.”