We have interviewed Tickengo in the past, which facilitates peer-to-peer ride sharing. The new kid on the block for social transportation – Phorego is available on 3 continents, in 5 languages for PCs, Tablets and Smartphones. It allows businesses, universities and communities to create their own rideshare groups with carpooling/vanpooling features. Founded by Frank Chiang, this startup is the recepient of Microsoft Azure’s $60K award. Frank Chiang is an Electrical Engineer by training, augmented his technical know-how with an MBA, and is eventually using them in the IT field. He has worked in South America, North America, Europe and Asia for big corporations, and for his own business. When we quizzed Frank on Phorego, here is what he had to say:
USP of Phorego compared to Uber, Lyft and other similar services:
The mission of Phorego is to create simple and sensible social transportation system.And our message is convenience, community and carbon. Our dictum can be summarized as : M+M = 3S+3C, or 2M = 3(S + C) for people who want to see the simplest mathematical form.
From the business side, we are fundamentally different from major operators such as Uber, Lyft, SideCar, Tickengo, etc. as they charge a fee and most mandate a fare. So they are more like taxi companies with a good app and as a result they get into legal hot water in some cities. We don’t have employer / employee or contractor relationship with the drivers and we don’t have business / customer relationship with the passengers. Our app is completely free and we don’t do any payment processing. We encourage people to be good Samaritans but of course they are free to ask for a fare to compensate for their vehicle expenses.
From the technology side, we believe we are in a very unique position as there seems to be no one with our capabilities at this point:
Global – We have engineered our app to be a global app. We can serve any country so long as it is technically feasible (with mapping service) and legally acceptable. Imagine flying from Madrid to New York, you can turn on your app on your mobile at the airport and look for a cheaper and faster ride into Manhattan! Though at the moment we have only activated the service in 10 countries, namely Canada, US, UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand, China and Taiwan, we will roll out the service gradually to other countries.
Multi-Lingual – Currently our app interface supports English, French, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional) and you can use local language for your local addresses.
All Platforms – Currently we support Windows 7 Web App, Windows 8/RT store app and Windows Phone app. Before September 2013 we will support Android and iPhone devices, so we will reach almost everyone who has a computing device.
Active Interaction – Some operators (like Craigslist) provide a passive platform. They require you or others to constantly check for availability and then initiate the conversation. We deliver precise and highly compatible results to your device automatically and continuously.
Ride Group – Create Ride Group to share rides among members with increased ride probability and confidence.
Carpool – Arrange to share rides with more than one matches.
Proximity Match – Unlike many operators that do very coarse matching (within same city and within same day), our app will match you only with the people who travel within compatible time and detour range.
On Journey with Microsoft BizSpark:
Microsoft has been instrumental in helping us to where we are now. They provided material support like free MSDN subscription for software download and free Azure trial account. These benefits are automatically provided to any BizSpark members. In our case, they sponsored us to attend the DEMO Fall 2012 event and their senior staff made constant contacts and encouragements. Eventually they offered us the Azure $60K award, which enabled us to setup a global Azure infrastructure without cost concerns.
TTP’s take on Phorego:
The model of Phorego differs from similar services in two major aspects: Controlling the driver & passenger list, along with mandating a minimum fare. This model relies on the inherent goodness in people. If the passenger does not pay the driver or if the driver behaves in an unacceptable way with the passenger, they should be brought out to the public. Only then can the community get stronger. We hope that future releases of Phorego can enable these safety features.