Ola Oladapo and his co-founders are hoping to lead Brighton into a new era of ‘ride-sharing.’

Words By Max Kilham

London Black Cabs, Uber, and now RideDash. Led by former University of Sussex alum Ola Oladapo, the entrepreneur is looking to squeeze his way into the lives of those in Brighton, by appealing to its student population. However, in an already saturated market, can this aspiring business succeed?

Ola, 23, from London, is the CEO at the company. He recently graduated from the University of Sussex and during his time there, the business venture was founded. Along with CTO Oscar Sanz and COO Kendrick Fordjour, their business venture finished third in the 2020 StartUp Sussex competition, paving the way for its official launch earlier this month.

So, why Brighton?

“We chose Brighton for several reasons.

“We went to university here and have become accustomed to the place.

“There are two universities within close proximity to each other and since we are student focused, it only made sense to stay here.

“Finally, the idea to help drivers earn more and live a better life was ignited here.”

Continuing, Ola conveyed how the company operates:

“Dashride (RideDash) is essentially a social ridesharing app for students.

“So when I say social ridesharing for students what that basically means is we created a platform that’s actually made for students, by students for a few main reasons.

“Firstly the prices. When we were at Sussex, going out, or going back home at night, we were always paying ridiculous fees.

“We realised that the prices were always inflated for several reasons.

Ola went on to discuss how safety is one of the main focus points of the company:

“That’s the main reason why we started this in the first place, to really solve that issue and create a platform where drivers have ownership to run their own business rather than us running a platform where we essentially commercialise drivers and make money off what they do. For example, drivers only pay £50 a month to have access to the app.

“That’s why we’re a lot cheaper than any other alternative and we just thought students would love that. We’re always on a budget.

“There’s a social experience around the whole thing, so within the app itself you can actually add friends, add your close friends and everytime your friends arrive it comes up as an activity.

“It makes it a bit of fun but also adds safety and those are the two main reasons why we chose to (start the business) because number one, it’s just cheaper and number two, because of the safety.”

However, in a watertight market such as this, room to squeeze in amongst other big brand competitors becomes slim. Uber, amongst other taxi services, are all present in Brighton and are the dominating forces in ride services within Brighton. Breaking into the market won’t be easy but Ola is planning for such difficulties:

“There’s two things: the price, again it’s just cheaper and number two: the social aspect of it as well.

“So, imagine again, you have a friend, you have three friends you go out with all the time, you can actually just add them.”

“The way I kind of see it is if Uber and Snapchat had a baby.”

Safety is always a priority and with the COVID-19 pandemic having increased the necessity for these strict safety measures, preventing infection has been added to the already long list of safety measures needed. Oladapo explained how he looks to ensure the safety of both his drivers and customers:

“All drivers on the platform have to be fully licensed by the Brighton and Hove council. The term for the licence is called “Private hire licence”. 

“To acquire the private hire licence from the council, drivers have to be fully vetted and background checked. 

“We also do additional vetting to get to know the drivers and make sure they are safe for students to ride with.”

“All drivers essentially have to wear facemasks and all students, we would encourage them to wear facemasks too. 

“We can also send messages via the app telling you to wear facemasks.”

With COVID cases skyrocketing recently to over 3000 a day and new social measures being introduced, many fear that a second lockdown could be imminent. If this were to happen, how would Ola’s recently developed business survive?

“There’s a lot of different things we can do if that happens. 

“We can always just refocus the company and provide, perhaps, essentials for students. 

“If you’re in a lockdown and you need to order something, we could get it delivered to you professionally. We could always repurpose the company to do something like that.”

Brighton is a hotbed for student life, with masses of students travelling around the city at any one time, giving the business the potential to thrive. Ola expressed his hopes for the future:

“For the near future we just want to get at least half of the student population on the platform. We actually launched yesterday and we’ve seen some really good growth already. 

“To give you some numbers: we’ve got over 100 downloads in less than 24 hours. 

“So we are seeing some good traction already and also we’re working with the SU (Sussex Student Union). 

“We advertise ourselves on campus as well. But yes, we are expecting some good growth.”

The future is far from clear in these uncertain times. However, ride services are a part of Brighton unlikely to ever disappear. In a tricky market in tricky times, Ola and the team hope that with RideDash’s student focus, the company will gain stand up against competitors in the city.

All that can be done now, is to wait and see.

Website of RideDash: https://ridedash.app/ 

DISCLAIMER: The Badger does not endorse excessive use of transport and government guidelines should be stuck to stringently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picture credit: RideDash

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