From frustration to happiness – our latest investment aims to change the game of daily commutes

Frustration, anger, helplessness and happiness describe my emotional journey during this morning’s bad commute to work. A trip that normally takes 45 minutes took 1 hour and 45 minutes and I saw an hour of extra work time being added to the end of a Friday!  I am sure the first three emotions are no strangers to those of us who commute daily but happiness, however, is rarely associated with commuting. Volvo Ventures have just completed an investment in a company that offers an alternative to endless hours of non-productive, frustrating car commuting.  Experiencing the pain point that a new investment aims to solve was the source of my happiness.

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Ridepal offers its riders a luxury coach with high-speed internet that takes them from close to where they live to work. Ridepal’s model is based on companies seeing the advantages of offering their employees route-optimized shuttles and taking part of the cost. Netflix’s previous talent officer, Patty McCord explained the benefits perfectly,

“Netflix does not do perks, people work here because they fundamentally like what they do and the culture. Free meals are a perk; commute buses are a must because it is about productivity.” 

The advantages for the riders include ability to start work during the commute, reduced stress levels at a cost cheaper than getting into your car. According to interviews conducted with riders, the service is addictive and once you have experienced the advantages, it’s really hard to go back to a frustrating drive.

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The beauty of Ridepal’s business model compared to private commuter shuttle programs at Google, Genentech, Apple and others is that it utilizes the power of the sharing economy made possible at a new level through technology. Ridepal aggregates demand from several companies in an area to significantly reduce costs, they enable private persons to utilize the existing routes when capacity is available and they aggregate supply of transport capacity from companies with suitable coaches. All of this is made possible through the clever use of web and mobile software.

Ridepal has had a great start of its journey with customers like Intuit and Groupon. The vision is however bigger – helping commuters globally to get to and from work in a simply more effective way. The Bay area is a great sand box with unique conditions but bad traffic situations and uncoordinated commuting journeys exist in most densely populated areas in other parts of the world.

The mobile phone is predicted to be the center of our travel need, helping us find the most efficient way from A to B, be it ridesharing, taxi, bike, public transport or commuter shuttles. In order to make this vision a reality there need to be good alternatives to getting into your car, Ridepal adds a great alternative for one of the most important transportation needs, the daily commute.

Volvo Group’s vision is to become the world leader in sustainable transport solutions.  Volvo Buses pioneered the Bus Rapid Transit system that is key to public transport in many parts of the world and keeps on innovating public transportation and services. This follows a strong trend seen where private entities increasingly are complementing public transport alternatives. Moving people from cars to buses significantly reduces the environmental impact and through the utilization of alternative fuels, hybrids and fully electric buses, this can be reduced further or even be fully eliminated.

We eagerly look forward to joining forces with Ridepal, utilizing the in-depth knowledge and technologies we have from global public transportation systems combined with Ridepal’s innovative model. Hence enabling more people to experience a better commute to and from work and improve traffic situations in cities and reducing environmental impact!

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About Jonas Landström

After 5 years as an entrepreneur in a biotech start-up, I joined the dark side at Volvo Group Venture Capital. As a VC I am fortunate to look into many companies and get heavily involved in a few. I am genuinely interested in the mechanisms of efficient entrepreneurship including the engagement by VCs. I am hooked on the ideas presented by Steven Blank and Eric Ries around Customer development and lean principles.
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One Response to From frustration to happiness – our latest investment aims to change the game of daily commutes

  1. This is very informative article and i got very informative knowledge from this blog. Thanks for sharing this informative knowledge.

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