STARTUP

Why Hail a Ride, When You Can Chat for One?

Philippine-based Beep a Ride wants to do what Grab and Uber do not.

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 13 Sep 2017

car sharing

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

 

While some entrepreneurs are beginning to build businesses atop existing ride-sharing apps, Angeline Viray created the Manila-based Beep a Ride in response to what she felt was a gap in the industry, one that she experienced first-hand.

“I started as an Uber and Grab partner when the incentives were at an all time high. I was also there when it went to zero. I saw how people got 5-year car loans, left their jobs to drive for the TNCs [transport network company] full-time, only to realize it may not be as stable and sustainable as advertised or expected,” Viray says.

She says she empathized with her peers who also faced the same shifts of the ride-sharing industry. As a result, she founded car rental platform Beep a Ride, which she sees as having its own unique advantages vis-a-vis ride-sharing.

“Car rentals have more income leeway, less driver effort, less mileage, and a higher profit-to-loss margin,” she says, before conceding, “It may not be a more consistent source of income, but it is indeed a good alternative and complement to the ride-sharing apps.”

People will naturally compare Beep a Ride with the ride-sharing apps active in Southeast Asia, and Viray distinguishes her start-up along several points. “Whatever Uber and Grab is not doing—multiple stops, long drives, multiple days, rent a driver for your car, event transportation, car sharing, special requests—we do,” she says.

The user experience of Beep a Ride is also different from what passengers tend to experience with ride-sharing apps. Beep a Ride users chat with their chatbot Beep via Facebook Messenger about their vehicle and service requirements. After taking 30 minutes or less to find a match, the user is informed of his choices, and he can the pick his preferred vehicle and pay. “Everything else is handled by Beep and the Beep driver from thereon,” Viray says.

Since Beep a Ride competes in a relatively new vertical in Southeast Asia, Viray has had to pivot its target market several times. She shares that their initial target market were non-car owners, foreigners, overseas foreign workers (OFWs) who have returned home, and travelers.

“It worked for a while but the influx of requests was not very consistent. After studying what Beep a Ride is really about, we are now targeting companies, events, and the like, who need vehicles on a regular or a more frequent basis. This gives us more jobs (and income) to provide to our loyal community of vehicle owners,” she says.

As an example of what Beep a Ride can do for its enterprise customers, Viray cites the case of a road manager for high profile events. As someone who already has enough on her plate, the road manager is only further burdened by having to think of details like drivers, vans, and itinerary.

“By working with Beep a Ride and our very well-trained and good-willed Beep drivers, she has eliminated all these and has gained peace of mind in terms of the event transportation, more time for more important things, and the convenience of just giving us a call to provide whatever vehicle she urgently needs for her projects,” Viray says.

Beep a Ride is built around chat functionality and Viray says those that who do test it out tend to like the user experience.

“No app to download, no additional log-ins to remember, with a very friendly chatbot like Beep. Now, our team is focusing on building on the ‘love for chat’ of our users and ensuring that fluid and unforgettable user experience is our competitive advantage, aside from stellar service provided,” she says.