IU students to expand their college ridesharing app, Nomad Rides

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Ten years after Uber launched its ridesharing app, a new competitor wants in on the action.

Nomad Rides is the third ridesharing company to be licensed in Indiana. The app’s founders are two former Indiana University (IU) students who say they want to tackle transportation and safety on college campuses.

“They (college campuses) are just the perfect rideshare place because you have 50,000 kids in this three-mile radius,” explained Nomad Rides co-founder Daniel Jones.

The tech venture started as two IU students launching a carpool texting service, but evolved into Indiana’s third licensed ridesharing app.

“It’s pretty amazing because you go through all of those times telling people your idea,” co-founder Michael McHugh said.

That idea has led to 10,000 rides in less than a year, according to the app’s creators.

College students FOX59 spoke to on the Bloomington campus say Uber and Lyft can’t beat it.

“It’s a fixed cost—it’s $5 a ride,” senior, Kylee McVicker said.

The app is set for rides around campus and local college hotspots.

Nomad Rides’ founders also had a pulse on what their classmates needed.

“I think first and foremost would be safety. I’d rather walk somewhere sometimes just because I feel like I am scared now about riding alone in a car,” explained Marissel Llavore, an IU graduate student.

“I think definitely with recent events happening with Uber and Lyft, it’s nice to know that your driver is a student because I feel like that creates a level of trust to a certain degree,” said Alexa Rico, a soon-to-be junior.

Nomad Rides runs national and local background checks on driver applicants, who are mostly students. It also runs them through the sex offender registry and BMV records.

For these students who drive, the benefit they say is that Nomad Rides doesn’t take a commission.

“Just because me, when I drive, I’d get all the money—cut out the middle man,” said Jack Byer, a senior who started driving for the app in its early stages, then known as B-town Rides.

“There have been nights where you make $100. There’s never been a time where you make less than $50,” explained Div Balani, a recent IU graduate who says he drove for extra income during graduate school.

Drivers pay Nomad Rides a monthly $25 subscription—that’s compared to Uber and Lyft, which take upwards of 20 percent commission plus service and booking fees.

Jones and McHugh say with advertisements and snack sales in the vehicle, Nomad Rides also makes money.

The young Hoosier entrepreneurs now want to take their app on another route to Purdue University’s campus then to other Big Ten college campuses.

Over the summer, Nomad Rides’ founders were accepted into Y- Combinator, a startup accelerator that’s been behind companies like Air BNB, DropBox, and Reddit.

Also in their corner is Jones’ dad, Scott Jones, a local tech entrepreneur who founded ChaCha and invented voicemail.

To learn more about the company, search for Nomad Rides in your device’s app store.

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