Revolutionizing College Town Transportation: A Conversation with Chad Mastagh, Rides2U Founder and CEO

Author
Hua Wang
Published
January 18, 2024

Chad Mastagh, a veteran firefighter, started Rides2U to connect community members, students and families with professional, convenient and secure transportation. 

A Game-Changer in College Town Transportation

Rides2U is a reservation-based rideshare service specializing in college towns, providing unparalleled safety, reliability, and high-quality transportation on every ride.  Chad Mastagh, founder and CEO of Rides2U, saw a need for a transportation service that caters specifically to the unique requirements of college communities.

“I started driving for traditional rideshare companies about six years ago because my daughters were in college, and my son was travelling for baseball. I needed a way to make additional money without missing time at home,” Chad explains. His personal experience as a driver and a parent led him to launch Rides2U.

Since its launch in February 2023, Rides2U has generated over $310,000 in revenue, primarily in the Notre Dame community. They’ve also successfully expanded to Purdue and are in discussions with Ole Miss for further expansion.

Hybrid Franchise Model: Empowering Local Entrepreneurs

Rides2U has introduced a pioneering “hybrid franchise” model that empowers local entrepreneurs in college towns to provide safe, reliable, and efficient transportation services. Unlike traditional franchise models, Rides2U partners with local operators, providing them with the necessary technology, software, and insurance to run their businesses effectively.

Chad explains, “We’re not just white-labeling our app and saying, ‘Here you go.’ We’re providing local entrepreneurs with everything they need to succeed, from software to driver recruitment and training. We share the profits and create a win-win situation.”

This approach allows Rides2U to extend its reach and impact while enabling local operators to thrive in the ride-sharing business, even in smaller markets that larger competitors often overlook.

Government Initiatives: Minnesota Department of Transportation Partnership

Rides2U is excited to partner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, demonstrating the company’s commitment to improving transportation options in rural areas. Rides2U was selected to participate in a 10-week program focused on enhancing mobility in underserved communities, starting with Minnesota’s non-major cities, much like South Bend.

Chad says, “We’re one of the few out-of-state companies selected for this program. If successful, it could lead to $2 million in funding and help us expand our presence in rural areas, further improving transportation accessibility.”

Navigating the Digital Landscape

Rides2U relies on digital tools and technology. Initially built on Bubble.io, a web-based no-code/low-code platform, Rides2U has since transitioned to Firebase and Flutter to develop their Android and iOS apps.  Rides2U utilizes Google’s APIs for various functionalities, including location tracking, price and distance calculation.  It uses Facebook and Instagram for brand awareness and ads and Stripe for payments.

He shares, “We explored various technologies and even ventured into international collaboration with a developer firm in Tunisia to leverage their cost-effective yet skilled workforce, and we are looking to hire more developers in the Philippines.”

Policy Recommendations: Tailored Permits and Regulations

Chad emphasizes the importance of tailoring permits and regulations for transportation companies like Rides2U. He believes that many small companies like his struggle to compete when faced with uniform, high-cost permits designed with larger competitors in mind, such as Colorado’s $100K price for a rideshare permit. By recognizing the unique dynamics of smaller markets and accommodating startups, governments can foster innovation and economic growth.

Taxation of Digital Services

Regarding the taxation of digital services, Chad expresses concerns about the potential harmful impact on startups. He believes that taxing digital transactions may be detrimental to small companies trying to achieve profitability. He emphasizes that policies should be carefully crafted to encourage entrepreneurship and growth.

What Lies Ahead in 2024

As for the future, Rides2U has exciting plans for 2024. They aim to continue expanding their hybrid franchise model to serve more college communities and create a unified platform for booking buses in these areas. Chad envisions Rides2U becoming a one-stop shop for transportation needs within college towns, with a broader reach and more local entrepreneurs involved.

Conclusion

Chad Mastagh and Rides2U exemplify the transformative power of digital tools and technology when harnessed to address real-world challenges. By prioritizing safety, efficiency, and collaboration, Rides2U is making a lasting impact on college towns and setting a new standard for transportation services in these communities.

Rides2U

Chad Mastagh