Have you heard of the rideshare start up Via? We profiled it originally here, and since that article, Via has expanded, most recently into Arlington, TX. But is Via a serious challenger to Uber and Lyft? Today, senior RSG contributor John Ince answers that question and more. Do you drive for Via or have you taken Via? Let us know what you think in the comments!
A few weeks ago, I gave a ride to a woman who travels regularly to New York City, and she raved all about a startup ride hailing service called Via. I was intrigued, because the conventional wisdom about ridesharing is that it’s an industry characterized by strong network effects that would make it virtually impossible for any new players to gain sufficient traction to become a factor. Yet clearly Via was resonating with many people in NYC.
One of the chief reasons Uber has been able to raise tens of billions of dollars from investors is the assumption that ridesharing is a winner-take-all marketplace. Uber and Lyft have been in all out war for market share here in the United States. The same competitive dynamics are playing themselves out in China, Russia, Indonesia, India, and South America.
Surely there’s no room for a small, niche player in this marketplace. So what is Via doing in New York City, having recently raised another $250 million from investors – seemingly defying gravity and beating the big boys with a simple, efficient model that, for the moment at least, seems to have both passengers and drivers satisfied enough to come back again and again for the service?
I had to know more.