Rdvouz Interview: Innovating to Popularize Ridesharing in the U.S.

Rdvouz is a new ridesharing service that helps travelers in the United States and Europe find rides to wherever they are going. Currently focused on the American market, Rdvouz has two key distinguishing features from the other networks in this country: map visualization and a metasearch functionality that will display rides matching your search criteria not only on the Rdvouz network but also from other ridesharing services. I meet with Rdvouz founder Rafael Ancheta to talk about the future of ridesharing and where Rdvouz fits in.

Rdvouz map

ShareTraveler: Why did you decide to build a ridesharing website?

Rafael Ancheta: I was just really frustrated that I couldn’t consistently get a ride to the Sierra Nevadas to climb on the weekends, mostly because no one really drives to remote sections of the Sierras. But I thought, maybe if I just create a ridesharing site that can find people passing by me and the mountains on their way to wherever I could find more rides. So I started creating the ridesharing site called Rdvouz with these capabilities.

As I started working on it however I realized that it could be much much more, it could fill the void of a ridesharing service in the states and have the capability to bring people anywhere. This is something that I’ve always wanted, the ability to travel anywhere no matter where I was. Just by seeing passing cars I could go anywhere those cars pass by. The idea was so cool to me I just had to keep going with it, someone had to make this happen for the future Rafaels of the world.

ST: How did you come up with this idea of a metasearch of ridesharing?

Rafael: While I had toyed with the idea of metasearch for ridesharing before, the real instigator of the idea was not myself but one of the investors in the Carma Axlr8r, Sean O’Sullivan. He first suggested it as a way to provide a more useful service to our users, one place to see all the rides they could take.

rdvouz aggregator

ST: Your site is unique in displaying rides on a map rather than just from point to point: why did you decide to do it this way?

Rafael: I felt that the idea of seeing passing rides was a little to abstract for a user to completely believe just based seeing a list of trips. How are you supposed to know that someone driving from San Diego to Portland can pick you up in Los Angeles unless you see it? Also, like any traveler, I really really like maps.

ST: Can you explain how people book a rideshare through Rdvouz if the listing came from an external site?

Rafael: If the rideshare listing came through another site the trip page on Rdvouz will have a link back to the place where it came from, from there you can follow whatever procedure that site has available for booking. Most likely a phone number or some sort of message system.

ST: Are you planning to focus on the U.S. ridesharing market or do you hope to provide a website for more global use?

Rafael: The idealistic side of me wants to say I want Rdvouz to be this global system to bring people anywhere they can imagine, but for right now I’m focusing very particularly on the United States market because its my home. I’ve learned the hard way that its better to focus on one area and figure out what the problems are rather than reach far to wide and have no idea what you’re doing.

ST: What barriers do you think we face in the U.S. to popularizing ridesharing?

Rafael: The U.S in particular has many obstacles to popularizing ridesharing in the traditional sense when compared to other countries. There’s a reason why a lot of the global players in ridesharing have decided not to come to the United States. Gas prices are low, cars are cheap to own compared to other regions, our cities are far apart, plane travel is more common, and Americans just aren’t really into sharing. We’re more comfortable with a chauffeur than a friend. At the same time though, ridesharing has flourished in areas with much better public transit and rail than the states just through sheer determination. Building a long distance ridesharing network isn’t something that happens overnight, it takes years or decades of hard work to make it happen, something Rdvouz is willing to keep working at.

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