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Axle Travel (Techstars 2017)

CEO

Photo of Bharath Krishnamoorthy
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Axle helps people go farther together. Our Passenger Optimization technology allows users to make any point of interest more accessible by facilitating better ride-sharing.

Users can create "Events" with a specific point of interest and date, then distribute the link to the other users ("Passengers") who may also be traveling to the event. Axle collects travel preference data from all the Passengers, then helps them coordinate ride-sharing groups and secure transportation; whether that's splitting costs to share a personal vehicle, a rental car, an Uber, or a bus.

Our unique advantage is our zoomed-out perspective: instead of evaluating demand for transportation at an individual level, we view the problem through the lens of independent Events. This allows us for Passenger Optimization that fosters a deeper sense of community through shared-social experiences, while minimizing the cost of  transportation for the group as a whole. Importantly, Events can be anything that involves many people traveling to or from a particular location for a common purpose: e.g. work, flights, weddings, sports games, etc.

Long-distance commutes are a type of Recurring Event that represents one of the most lucrative use cases for our technology, but to seize that opportunity now, we would need to scale our engineering resources to handle the additional complexity. The City of Tomorrow challenge is an exciting opportunity to do exactly that.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Events can be anything that involves many people traveling to or from a particular location for a common purpose: e.g. work, flights, weddings, sports games, etc. Any user can create events, but we believe its likely that a leveraged distribution model would be the most effective here. That would entail partnerships with the businesses themselves, so that they would actively encourage commuters to adopt these solutions.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Our founders have been best friends for over a decade. Before this, we bootstrapped to profitability (i) a consumer transportation product and (ii) a transportation analytics SaaS product. Bharath (CEO) graduated from Columbia Law School, serves on the Board of Advisors for his alma mater's Center for Entrepreneurship, and is a Kairos Fellow. Shawn (CTO) graduated from UVA and worked for several analytics startups, including one acquired for $1B and another where he reported to the CTO.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

We're already running experiments with one off events, and earlier this year, we raised $1.3M from investors including Techstars, Fontinalis Partners, Trucks VC, Plug and Play Travel, and 37 Angels. I've attached a detailed financial model showing projections for we can reach gross profitability before the funds run out. However, we plan to close our next round of $3M-$7M by next year. If we win this grant, we'll use the resources to explore the exciting, but more engineering-intensive, use case of long-distance commutes. Absent some additional funding, we will probably postpone this exploration until after we've secured our next round of funding. Please note - the financial model reflects actual numbers for previous months, except September, which is still being updated.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We'll increase our burn by $25K for 4 months (represents a ~100% increase) to focus and expand our user acquisition and product dev efforts on the long-distance commute problem in and around Pittsburgh. A+: $10K monthly revenue, positive unit economics by the end of month 4 B: $5K monthly revenue, evidence that unit economics are trending to positive Failed - anything less (but would make a subjective call about whether to stay the course by evaluating the sum of our learnings by that time)

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Photo of Matt Beck
Team

Hi Bharath,

Our submission for our company Squire, which provides wi-fi enabled shuttles to commuters could potentially join with your submission given the opportunity to work together in the next stage. Our shuttles provide transit for commuters on week days during typical morning/evening commute time. This means our vehicles and drivers are available to re-deploy for other uses like short events throughout the day, or longer events at night and on weekends. You can see our submission here: https://challenges.cityoftomorrow.com/challenge/pittsburgh/refine/squire-wi-fi-enabled-comfortable-point-to-point-commuter-transit/comments#comments-section

Would love to hear your thoughts!
Matt

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