Uber but Cuter

By the time kids can drive, their parents have often been chauffeuring them to and from various activities for more than a decade. Transportation is more than a time suck; it’s also a logistical challenge when a kid needs to get from Point A to Point B during your normal work hours. With millions of parents willing to throw money at this problem as soon as school lets out every day, why haven’t more entrepreneurs stepped into the void? Rebecca Heilweil explains the legal and market challenges at Wired:

[M]ixing minors into the rideshare model — a business that’s already expensive to build — is a difficult feat. These companies must adhere to privacy laws regulating data collected from minors. California law requires their drivers register their fingerprints with TrustLine, a state database of nannies and babysitters who have cleared criminal background checks. Their services are generally more expensive than those offered by Uber and Lyft, and are typically used for pre-scheduled rides, rather than on-demand service.

Those difficulties take their toll. Shuddle, one of the first minor-adapted rideshare startups, shut down in April 2016, after two years of operation. Critics said the company spent the $12 million it raised too quickly, and was slow in requiring its drivers register with TrustLine. When it shuttered, many of its drivers turned to HopSkipDrive, which acquired Shuddle’s assets. Sheprd, another kid-focused ride-hail service operating in Newton, Massachusetts, shut down in late October after announcing that it, too, was struggling with permit issues and had run out of money.

But Heilweil also details how the private shuttle model can appeal to financially strapped school districts, especially those find maintaining a fleet of school buses increasingly inefficient. Sitting at the intersection of a lot of dynamic issues – ride hailing, gig workers, automated vehicles, privacy, work/life balance, school funding, kids’ (over)scheduling – this market seems like an interesting one to watch, early hiccups notwithstanding.

Photo credit: Aaron Parecki. Some rights reserved.

Categories: News

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