EZ-RYDR, a new subscription-based ride-share company, has announced it will expand to Starkville this semester.
EZ-RYDR was developed by CEO Kyle Staude and a couple of his friends who had graduated from the University of Mississippi. EZ-RYDR made its first appearance in Oxford last year.
“We started in Oxford, and two of the other partners and I actually graduated from Ole Miss, so it made sense for us to start there,” Staude said. “We actually started in the middle of the semester, so the spring will be our first true test since we will have a full semester.”
Initially, Staude and his partners planned to keep EZ-RYDR exclusive to college students; however, one of their promotions changed their game plan.
“We had a little New Year’s Eve promo in Oxford, and we actually had some locals sign up,” Staude said. “Now, we are shifting more towards still the rural college cities, but we are opening up to the whole city. The students are still our primary target.”
EZ-RYDR is subscription based, meaning students and residents of Starkville can have unlimited rides within the city limits for a set price.
EZ-RYDR works through an app like other common ride-share companies.
“You request a ride, but instead of paying per ride, you pay a subscription,” Staude said. “You’ll be able to sign up for weekly or monthly. You pick one, you pay for it and you have unlimited rides in that period. The only per ride transaction you’ll ever have is if you tip.”
EZ-RYDR is still in the BETA testing process, though, meaning riders cannot sign up just yet.
“We took a little different approach than we did in Oxford,” Staude said. “We went and got drivers on board first, then went to the students. In Starkville, we said we’re not even going to worry about drivers right now, I just want to get in front of students, get questions and inform the people what it is all about. Then, we can gauge the interest level and go recruit drivers.”
With EZ-RYDR expanding to the Starkville community, EZ-RYDR has become a member of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, according to GSDP Director of Tourism Jennifer Prather.
With EZ-RYDR, their number one core value is safety, so they have taken the time to hire the most qualified safety and security specialists for their team.
“Our safety and security adviser actually used to be the head of security for the CIA,” Staude said. “He still does contract work with the government specifically for terrorist training overseas, and he does a lot of active shooter scenario trainings in schools and how to react. His vision when it comes to safety is to have a preventative approach. For example, maybe related to us, let’s say you’re at the library late at night, instead of walking to your dorm and exposing yourself at the risk of getting robbed or whatever the case may be, just take a ride.”
Along with a preventative approach for safety, EZ-RYDR perspective drivers must undergo standard background checks along with a behavioral profile.
“We go above and beyond what the state requires,” Staude said. “We are in the process of transitioning with the company we work with to do our background checks... The company, Safety Penn Technologies, they do the standard background checks and a behavioral profile. You can pass all of the background checks, but still not pass the behavioral profile.”
Along with all of the thorough background checks and behavioral profiling, Staude meets with all of the drivers face-to-face before they are able to drive for the company.
While using the preventative action technique to lower the risk of danger between riders and drivers, there are two features that can be used through the app to ensure safety.
“There is an emergency button,” Staude said. “The driver and the rider both have access to that button. Once the rider is picked up, you will be able to see a little alarm button in the app. You can pre-populate up to five emergency contacts.”
Along with the emergency button, there is an option for female riders to choose whether they prefer a female driver or a driver of either sex. While female riders can make this preference, the guarantee of having a female driver relies solely on if there are any female drivers available, according to Staude.
With EZ-RYDR focusing primarily on safety, the team behind the new ride-share program is bringing a sense of community to wherever they are operating, according to Staude.
GSDP Director of Membership Development Hunter Herrington said the partnership is glad Staude can offer a new method of transportation to Starkville.
“We’re excited that he’s in Starkville and that his services are going to be offered to our community,” Herrington said.