A trio of local tech entrepreneurs want to break into the crowded rideshare market with an app that pairs users, and their cars, with available drivers.
Uber and Lyft aren’t the only ridesharing apps in town. Local entrepreneurs Ned Witte, Tim Hansen and Sam Washer launched WayAround, a souped-up designated-driver service, in 2016 – the idea being that users can hire a driver to jump into their cars and take them where they need to go.
The founders hope to gain enough of a market share in MKE to compete with more established apps and traditional taxi companies. We asked Witte to catch us up to speed on how they expect to do that, and who’s using the app so far.
How did you get the idea for WayAround?
We originally envisioned a designated-driver solution for Milwaukee, but we wanted to address the problem of getting you home and your car home. We are constantly getting reinforcement that the concept is a winner from unexpected sources, including from people with medical appointments or driver limitations and who still need to get around.
Is this the first app you’ve worked on?
Yes, it’s been a learning experience. Fortunately we have a great tech team supporting WayAround.
What distinguishes WayAround from other ride services?
It’s like hiring a limo driver but not the limo. You are driven in your car, which is comfortable and familiar. And if you’re using WayAround for business, you can claim the mileage, because it’s your car.
Who’s your biggest competitor?
We don’t have a direct competitor, because we’re an emerging service. If you call Uber-type services or limo services competitors, or driving yourself competition, WayAround provides clear advantages.
Who’s your target customer?
WayAround makes perfect sense for executives who should be relaxing or working during drive time to and from a meeting. It not only adds to productivity, especially if they’re billed by the hour, but it’s a huge employee benefit in a competitive hiring environment. That’s our primary customer, but the next time anyone is driving themselves to Alpine Valley for a concert or to a Packer game, they should ask themselves about the ride home and if what we offer is worth it.
Are there any kinks or bugs you’re still working out?
We are looking forward to building out an Android platform, and there are always updates to any app to improve the user experience. We are also working on a function to allow users to request a specific driver.
How many people have used the app so far?
We currently service about 450 customers in Milwaukee, and it’s growing every day.
Why launch the app in Milwaukee?
Milwaukee is our home. We are invested in this city, and believe in it’s future. The people of Milwaukee love products that are made here.