Hop in: This Austin startup is bringing back hitchhiking with a digital twist

by Kelly O'Halloran
January 7, 2019
hitch
photo provided by hitch

Talks of a super commuter train between major Texas cities seem to have quieted down a bit since this past fall. Even still, if the state moves forward with construction of Hyperloop’s proposal, it’ll be years before it’s available to ride.

So what’s the most convenient, cost-efficient way to travel between Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio right now?

Hitch, an Austin startup that lets users connect to carpool between cities, launched last year to earn that title.

“In the 21st century, where technology has developed peer-to-peer networks that deliver great experiences, we thought about disrupting the bus industry,” said Hitch co-founder and CEO Kush Singh.

In the 21st century, where technology has developed peer-to-peer networks that deliver great experiences, we thought about disrupting the bus industry.”

 

The company provides ride sharing services between Austin and Houston with departures every one to two hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Passengers can book a ride to either city as early as one hour before departure by connecting with drivers already making the trip via Hitch’s app.

Each ride costs about $25 per person, and drivers can make up to $120 per round trip for filling up to three seats in their vehicle.

“I believe that companies should serve the end user — the customer,” said Singh. “It sounds obvious, but I don’t think the bus industry does that. The actual cabin experience is terrible. There’s usually multiple stops. Bus stations typically aren’t located in safe locations. And although you can never be late to a bus, a bus can be late for you, and you’ll never get an apology message or a dollar back.”

Not to mention being shoulder to shoulder with someone. That’s not the case for Hitch passengers.

“We never fill the middle seat of the back of the car,” said Singh. “Every Hitch driver operates a four-seat sedan, ensuring a more comfortable experience for our riders.”

Passenger pickup spots are set at Starbucks locations en route for the driver while drop offs are pre-determined in Austin and Houston by Hitch.

Over the next year, Singh said they plan on releasing dynamic drop offs, extending service to Dallas and adding features for an improved in-car ride, including blankets, pillows and customized experiences as soon as the driver pulls in.

To help, the company has already secured seed investments from several investors totaling roughly $525,000. They’ve also welcomed uShip co-founders and serial entrepreneurs Jay Manickam and Matt Chasen as co-founders, alongside Singh and Tanuj Girish, as well as Austin Ligon, founder of Carmax, as an investor and advisor. 

Not a bad start for a company that kicked off with both Singh and Girish making all the drives themselves.

“We gained a solid group of early adopters,” said Singh. “They’d find out they were riding with the founders and loved it.”

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