Two enterprising young Israelis have started a new ride service in New York that works through an app called Via. But the question that everyone is asking is certainly, can they compete with Uber?
Of course a couple of Israeli are behind this new venture. It is the brain child of Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval. It hopes to differentiate itself from Uber by offering luxury taxi services.
Regardless, it is always best to be the first mover in any new field of services and the duo are quite late to the game. But Israel did not become known as startup nation because of a lack of optimism.
First launched in September 2013, it operates up to 110th Street in Manhattan. The company now has 60, 000 members.
Last week Via announced that it expanded its city transit service to offer pick-ups and drop-offs as far south as 14th Street in New York City. The company has already provided more than 500, 000 rides throughout New York.
Via received $27 million in funding in January and the company boasts that it has doubled its total number of rides in the last 3 months and now provides tens of thousands of rides per week.
The company’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way and lets them share a chauffeured, premium vehicle for a rate of $5 (if prepaid) or $7 (for a single ride). The company’s drivers pick up riders within one block of their location in under 10 minutes.
The company’s proprietary algorithm matches passengers with seats at scale, which it says results in a more affordable and convenient mode of transportation. Via has been approved for pre-tax transit benefits, allowing members to pay for the service using pre-tax dollars.
“We knew there had to be a better way to get around New York City, and we came up with a solution to provide New Yorkers with rides that are much nicer and more convenient than the bus or subway but way cheaper than a taxi or private car service, ” said Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, co-founders of Via. “We are very pleased to see just how quickly the service has taken off, and we are excited to expand it to new areas throughout the city.”