This is a transcript of Episode 22: From Founding Lyft Driver to Rideshare Blogger. You can find show notes, comments and more by clicking here. You can also listen to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
Male: Welcome to the Rideshare Guide Podcast. The site that’s dedicated to helping drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder. So whether you drive for Lyft, Uber, Sidecar or anything in between, we’ve got you covered. And now here’s your host. Harry Campbell.
Harry: Hey, what’s going on everybody? Harry here. Welcome to another episode of the Rideshare Guy podcast. I’m definitely psyched to have you guys listening and I’m really excited for today’s episode. I’ve got a pretty cool interview with a guy named Doug Herrera who is actually my neighbor and he is a founding Lyft driver and now a Rideshare blogger. So he actually runs a site called ridesharingdriver.com and I’ve known about him for a while and we actually just recently went out to lunch, talked a little rideshare, and as you guys can imagine we had a lot to talk about, both being drivers and bloggers, and just he’s a cool guy, so I thought it would be really cool to have him on the podcast.
He was a founding Lyft driver in Orange County, which I found really fascinating so we talked a lot about that on the podcast, and it was just really cool to talk to someone who has been around for a while. You guys will hear on the podcast just how long he’s been around for. I’m not going to do any huge long intro today because the interview is a bit long but I think it is packed full of a lot of good information and just really cool stories and a lot of some of the benefits, some of the bad stuff, some of the good stuff about being a driver, and all the opportunities that you can take advantage of and it was definitely cool to hear. I think you guys definitely want to listen until the end because we kind of talked about how Doug recognizes opportunity to start a site and how he aligned two of his passions to basically create this huge opportunity for himself in addition to driving.
I think it’s a story that will resonate with a lot of drivers and I know that a lot of us are entrepreneurial and have all of these ambitions and I know a lot of people probably don’t want to go and drive Uber and Lyft forever, so I think this podcast interview was definitely inspiring for me and I think you guys will learn a lot from it. Hopefully you guys will enjoy it and before I move on, I just want to give a quick thanks to everyone who has been listening. We actually were right on the cusp of 10,000 downloads per month so all the podcasts right now combined I think last month, in June, they were very close. I was at about 9,000 downloads, which is awesome, so definitely appreciate everyone who has listened and I have been getting great feedback. I’m hoping to do a bunch of new interviews and a bunch of new podcasts going forward, so definitely stay tuned for that and if you guys haven’t checked out the course yet that we launched. I’m a little biased, but I think it’s packed full of ton of information. I launched a cool video course with Brian Cole.
As you guys know, I provide a ton of information through articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, interviews, and all of that good stuff so if you Google anything Rideshare you’ll probably see me pop up at some point just because we have so much content out there and one of the things I was finding was that a lot of people didn’t know where to get started. They’re either new drivers or they’re really looking, “How can I streamline this process?” and so that’s what we did with this video of course. We streamlined the process. We basically put all the information you would need whether you’re a beginning driver or a more advanced driver. We split it up into two courses, so we have an intro level course and a gold level course and if you buy the gold course then actually you’ll get both.
I think it’s really important because you’ll kind of get those good founding, those building blocks, even if you are a more experienced driver we cover all the basics that you forgot or maybe you didn’t even know and then we get into the more advanced money making strategies, where to be, how to find surge, how to get the long pickups, and basically everything that you would need so I would kind of think of it as, for those of you who really want a crash course who don’t want to sift through hundreds of articles or 10, 20, 30 podcasts and all of the hundreds of YouTube videos and all of the content.
We tried to really compact everything and put it into one place. So definitely check that out. It’s at maximumridesharingprofits.com. I’ll leave a link there in the show notes and we’re actually giving away a little free six day business course if you guys are interested in setting up your business in rideshare, everything from an LLC to taxes and insurance. We cover all that stuff for free so at a minimum you guys can hop on there and get a free business course delivered to your email. Without further ado, I want to get started with this interview and as I mentioned we’ve got Doug Herrera on the podcast today so hopefully you guys enjoy it. All right.
Hey Doug. How are you doing today?
Doug: Doing really good, Harry. How about you?
Harry: I’m doing well, doing well, just hanging out here, and actually, for those who don’t know, we are neighbors aren’t we?
Doug: That’s right. Yeah, I’m in Huntington beach.
Harry: Nice, and I’m in Newport Beach for the moment although I may be moving to Long Beach. Actually, I think you’re the second or third guest now that I’ve had that’s lived within about a 15 or 20 minute drive from me.
Doug: Well, don’t leave Orange County, Harry. Come on, we want you here.
Harry: Yeah, I know. It’s tough, but actually, I’ve spent most of my life about 10 to 15 minutes from the beach, so I’m pretty spoiled, so no matter where I end up, I’m not going to complain.
Doug: All right.
Harry: Awesome. But, so for those who don’t know, why don’t you tell all my listeners a little bit about you and why I’m having you on the podcast today.
Doug: Well, I’m a Lyft driver and an Uber driver. I also run and operate a website called ridesharingdriver.com which is about with Uber and ridesharing. Also, Harry, you said it was interesting that I was a founding Lyft driver here in Orange County, California.
Harry: Yes, that’s right and I mean not that all of your other accomplishments are not that interesting but I think when you mentioned, I guess I had never realized that you were actually one of the founding Lyft drivers here in Orange County, which I think is really cool because I know that there are so many drivers right now and, to be honest, a lot of drivers have quit or maybe they’ve moved on to bigger and better or just other things in general so it’s kind of rare to find someone who has been around as long as you have.
Doug: Yeah, you know it doesn’t really feel that long to me but I guess I’ve been around since around summer of 2013. Two years.
Harry: Wow. Two years. So just to give a little perspective. I’m one of the older, more experienced drivers and I signed up about a year ago so April – May 2014. So you’re even way before then. Almost a year before me.
Doug: You newbie, Harry. Come on.
Harry: Yeah, so definitely. So, I mean, first of all, for people who are wondering what a founding driver for Lyft is. They may have never even heard that term, so can you explain a little bit about what that term is and what exactly you did two years ago for Lyft?
Doug: Well, all that means is that I was in the very first batch of drivers for Orange County, California, when Lyft first opened up the marketplace for business. So Lyft wasn’t in every city at some point and when they launched into a new market they hired an initial group of drivers and it was a little bit of a limited selection. I think for Orange County there were around 70 or 80 of us who they kind of groomed to be the very first drivers in the area, kind of the best drivers, and the best initial ambassadors for the Lyft brand.
Harry: Interesting. So how did you find out about this job or how did you apply to be one of these initial founding drivers for Lyft?
Doug: Well, I heard about Lyft through a friend in summer 2013 when she was promoting a music event in Los Angeles and she partnered with Lyft to offer free rides to people coming to her event and I thought that was pretty cool and so I did a little bit more research about Lyft and ridesharing and saw that I qualified. I had a four door Mazda 3 and I kind of was looking for some extra income in my life and I went online and saw that Lyft was coming to Orange County but it wasn’t quite there yet. So I applied online but kind of got stalled just because they weren’t really ready to start taking people on yet and I felt a little bit in like a limbo at first because I wasn’t really hearing back but eventually in around September 2013 they got back to me and what was really different was that they got back to me on the phone.
Doug: And one of the first things that happened was they gave me kind of a brief initial phone interview, which I know today is just completely unheard of.
Doug: But to get someone for Lyft or Oober on the phone is practically impossible now, right?
Doug: So I did a little bit of a phone interview where they asked me about myself and they asked me why I was interviewing for Lyft. Kind of felt like a regular job interview, actually, I was a little surprised by that. I was kind of expecting an all online process. But it was cool because initially I had a little bit of a confusion about my insurance policy. I was, at the time, on a big family policy. You know the fifth driver way deep down on the insurance manifest and they had to help me. They coached me through getting these insurance documents and proving to them that I was there, which really impressed me because, you know, phone support, really great customer support, and I don’t think that these days you are a little bit on your own with that or you have to rely on email and it could take a while to get that kind of answer so it really helped me move along with the application process.
Harry: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think that’s kind of one of the big complaints right now that drivers have is that, obviously, there is no support and there is in person support with Uber and we know that we can email Uber and you can email Lyft although it is a little difficult these days to figure out how to do it through their contact form, but I think it’s definitely interesting to hear about your experience and your process getting signed up with them and their initial support and kind of how it’s changed over the years, I guess you’d say.
Doug: Yeah and actually I didn’t know that being a founding driver was going to be this special different thing. I was applying for a job just like I thought anyone would be. So when they invited me to do an in-person interview I thought that was a little odd and it was a group interview and Lyft had two company reps basically posted up in an Airbnb in Orange County for a week while they interviewed this first batch of founding drivers and so that was also very, very impressive to me. The whole operation was just like really sleek and smooth and we walked into this cool, rented office space and you sit down with these young Lyft reps. And then, once again, they asked me why I was doing it and if I had any questions, just a lot of personal touch kind of thing. And I just got the impression really early on that this company had a lot of money and they were really organized and they were really eager to set themselves apart.
Harry: Definitely. So it sounds like your initial experience was definitely overwhelmingly positive and I think that, obviously, things have change as they’ve tried to scale up and try to hire and they can’t do that right now for every single driver but I mean, I do still feel like there is a lot of room for opportunity and growth for Lyft and Uber. I interviewed a guy on one of the last podcasts who was the opposite of you. He was a brand new driver and one of the reasons that he found my site and other resources was because he just felt like there wasn’t any support, there wasn’t much that he could do. He got started and he was basically thrown into the wolves.
Doug: Yes, absolutely. I do see that that’s how it is now and that my experience was completely different and what was really smart about it was that you know by giving us initial 80 drivers in Orange County that personal touch, each of us drivers talked to countless passengers and friends about how good it was. And so by then that initial investment and making our first experience nice we probably, I mean, spread a lot of awareness about them and a lot of positivity that Lyft was unique and different.
Harry: Yeah, definitely and I mean when you think about, because the strategy that Lyft used was pretty interesting. Where they actually didn’t deploy any fulltime representatives in the Orange County market. Like you said, they rented an Airbnb. They are actually effectively able to launch in a brand new city without having a single person fulltime on the ground and I think it’s pretty cool how they used all of these ambassadors and, like you said, they did a really amazing job and because I came in at the tail end of when some of the founding drivers were maybe starting to splinter off a little bit and there were still meet-ups and things like that so I’m definitely interested to hear about your experience, what Lyft was like in those early days when it was just 70 or 80 of the founding drivers, because I think a lot of those drivers were super dedicated, kind of like you, very passionate about the company and basically just spread the good word, right?
Doug: Oh yeah. There was a lot of community in the early days and a lot of communication between the drivers which I think today is not nearly as common for drivers to hangout, for drivers to talk. In those early days there was a Facebook group that was inaugurated by a Lyft rep or community manager is what they called it, and the community manager scheduled drivers meet-ups once or twice a month that actually were pretty well attended. You know 10 or 15 drivers would show up, hangout and talk. Also, as the founding drivers, we all kind of met each other or at least got to see each other at this initial meeting. So after everyone was hired and Lyft was ready to begin the service they called us, all the drivers, up to another big, nice, rented meeting space where they gave us Chipotle and answered our final questions and we all kind of introduced ourselves to each other.
Harry: Chipotle is always a good bribe.
Doug: Oh yeah, guacamole and everything.
Harry: Oh wow. They spent for the guac. That’s how you know they’re big time.
Doug: Yeah, once I saw the guac I was like, “Okay, this company has got some real money”. Yeah, so you know, they gave us shirts, just really kind of above and beyond and then after that . . . so the Facebook group was very active and at the beginning very positive. People were excited and curious. People were pretty eager to help each other in kind of a positive way and that did change a little bit over time. It got a lot more negative as things changed but at first it was really positive, and also right as the company launched service in Orange County, this is really interesting, Lyft offered a $15 per hour guaranteed wage and it, to me, didn’t feel nearly as complicated as the guarantees are now.
All you had to do was be signed on for an hour and the only real rules that whichever was greater, your fares or $15 an hour. There were no minimum ride requests or anything like that or you didn’t have to have an impossibly high acceptance rate so it was very clear cut and very cushy. At first what would happen was because the service had just launched there wasn’t a ton of demand in the area but because they were going to pay $15 an hour everyone was happy and what would happen actually was the drivers would usually, five or six drivers at a time, you could find hanging out at a parking lot in Newport Beach at this really hot bar area . . . hanging out in Newport Beach talking, standing outside of their cars, waiting to get a ride request and just happy to do it because if they didn’t get a ride request there is still the $15 an hour and so just times were great, times were good.
Harry: I guess those are definitely the simpler days.
Doug: Oh yeah. I confess to doing some couch lifting which was waiting at home for a request and then hopping in the car the moment you get it. Yeah that was pretty sweet. And then what happened and this is when the game started changing a bit in a little bit of negativity set in was, Lyft forced you to schedule hours in advance. So about a week ahead you would use their online scheduler to reserve hours and then on Sunday or Monday of the week you would get your hour assignments. So let’s say you requested 40 hours to drive, you might only get assigned five or ten.
Harry: Oh wow.
Doug: Yeah and that kind of upset some people because they were hoping for fulltime work and the Lyft system would not allow you to sign on outside your hours so people were getting booted.
Harry: I mean it’s definitely kind of a challenge. I mean especially for a company like Lyft that’s trying to scale and that’s something I’m curious to talk to you about because that initial model of hiring people and spending a ton of time with the founding drivers obviously isn’t scalable, right? You can’t scale that on a thousand hundreds or thousands of drivers. You can’t afford to pay every single driver $15 an hour just for sitting on their couch. So I’m curious to know what mistakes you think Lyft made when they took this approach because I think that things were definitely headed on the right track and there were a few mistakes they made along the way. So I’m curious to hear from you, a founding driver. It sounds like there’s one with the hours going forward how it eroded a little bit.
Doug: Yeah. Well I think the mistakes could have been a little bit trying to over managing the market. Since there was the hourly guarantee which I think initially was fine because what the companies say, still say is their number one goal is to have as many drivers on the road as possible because they want the passenger to be happy. The passengers’ experience, they need to have the fastest response time and so they put their emphasis on passenger happiness more than driver happiness. All along they have been that way. They basically stated straight out.
And with this hour scheduling and they missed some drivers here in Orange County when they started really tightly controlling the hours that people worked and they really, probably could have done is to either drop the guarantee and just let people drive. Might have worked but you know it’s really hard to me to kind of input what any mistakes were because a big part of it was just that slowly the work of spreading the Lyft brand, because I guess after a while, the launch crew approach they took in Orange County is, like you said, pretty unsustainable if you are trying to open 10 cities a week or a month or whatever.
You can’t just have company reps all out there spending all this money. But they did need to spread the brand and the thing that they did well and still do, is offer the $10 promo code incentive for drivers so that actually… what started happening big time is street teaming became a big thing in Orange County. Drivers would organize in street teams to hand out their promo codes to promote the brand in public because a lot of people didn’t really know about Lyft or ridesharing or Uber or anything back in 2013 and so they needed to do that initial blast of promotion. It’s really hard to say where it went wrong and probably just the biggest thing was just the “rate wars”. I mean marketing advertising wise I thought Lyft was doing a pretty good job.
Harry: Yeah. I will say because I kind of came in right around that time when the Facebook groups were still in existence, so for those who don’t know, Lyft kind of sponsored Facebook groups in every city. Community managers would answer questions and I think it was right about that time about a year ago, when maybe they had their first rate cut to compete with Uber and I do think a lot of these founding drivers started to feel a little betrayed and a lot of the rally hardcore Lyfters and I know that some people would make fun of them and kind of call them the people who were “drinking the Kool-Aid”, right? I think what Lyft did was really interesting that they got so much loyalty from a lot of these founding drivers and, to be honest, it seemed like they screwed them over a little bit with rate cuts and now you have people who are dedicated Lyft drivers who maybe can’t make it as much on the new salaries as they’re trying to scale up. So I’m really curious to hear what you think about the shift that started taking place. I mean when lyft started maybe losing some of that loyalty from its founding drivers or just more experienced drivers in general.
Doug: Yup. Well even before the rate cuts there was what seemed like a fair amount of turnover in Orange County, which is kind of expected with this job. It’s easy to get into and out of for a lot of people and so there was some turnover happening but the core, like you said, the hardcore and the “Kool-Aid drinking” people just trashed Uber so badly, which I thought was kind of ridiculous but it wasn’t necessarily, exactly what Lyft was trying to get us to do. But yeah, so it was the rate cuts and negativity. It just really built in the Facebook groups and that was also around the time when they pulled the community managers from the Facebook groups and I kind of blame them.
The Facebook groups were up and running but they were also the negativity and there was two types of posts. There was simple questions that could be answered by any driver who had been driving for more than a few weeks and then there was just outright complaining and the community managers had to police that a little bit and they ended up . . . I don’t know there was a whole, it felt like a kind of mob against the community managers and Lyft pulled the community managers and assigned certain, more experienced Lyfters to be moderators of the boards and then within only probably two months of that they just closed the Facebook groups all together and I’d say, at that point a lot of the founding drivers had left.
Harry: Interesting. I almost empathize with Lyft a little bit at this point because as someone who runs a blog and has a lot of social engagement and comments it’s always tough because at the end of the day this is your site and especially now for me, this is my business so I want to be kind of . . . it’s a fine line you have to walk. I don’t want to be censoring peoples comments but at the same time I don’t want someone coming on to my site who is just going to trash me and trash my brand and they have no idea how hard I’ve worked for this or for that and to come on. I mean some of the comments you get are just ridiculous and will never see the light of day but at the same time there is also some where you let go and they kind of just slowly chip away so then keeping that brand, keeping things positive is tough when at the same time maybe the company isn’t doing things to support drivers positively and there’s some things that are kind of borderline. Basically I feel for those community managers. It’s a very tough job.
Doug: Yeah. I don’t think they were getting paid a whole lot and they were getting to just go like that and so they’re having to deal with a lot of stuff and also at that point in time, the early mid-2014, the Lyft engine was up and running. A lot more people knew what it was. A lot more people understood what ridesharing was. There wasn’t as much of this really initial, basic outreach of who we are and what we do. People started, the passengers understood that there is Lyft and there is Uber and there was a sense in passengers, they detected there was a difference in the drivers and the experiences but I think that Lyft pulled that really heavy, direct involvement with the drivers right around the time when the thing was up and running and those headquarters employees didn’t really need to push it along anymore.
Harry: Yeah and I think that definitely, especially in those earlier days, there were. I’m curious to know, the passengers that you were getting in those earlier days, were they pretty devoted to Lyft? They hadn’t heard of Uber? Or what do you think the difference between Lyft and Uber was in those earlier days? And then we can kind of shift towards what it’s like now.
Doug: I think it was the personal touch, the friendliness, the fist bumps, much more of a warmer, friendly thing but all of our training that initial founder training that we got in person was they ran through conversation, dialogue simulation about how to be friendly, how to be warm.
Harry: Wow. So Lyft kind of gave you guys training, pretty intense training.
Doug: Yeah, they gave us friendliness training.
Harry: Friendly training. How to be a good friend.
Doug: Yeah. Actually it was pretty warm and fuzzy like that. I think because they got to hand select the founding drivers that was the case so people in Orange County at least, came to know Lyft as being a little bit friendlier, which certain kinds of passengers like and certain passengers don’t like and a lot of people didn’t want to get fist bumps.
Harry: What I was about to say is that I think that a lot of passengers . . . it’s interesting to see how well that Lyft model scaled in San Francisco because, for those who don’t know, Lyft was bigger than Uber X at one point in San Francisco by a lot and I think kind of that quirky, friendly, your friend with a car driving you around model just didn’t scale out too well nationally. I think that for drivers they really prefer that community feel and when Lyft launched in a city like Orange County it was easy to kind of get these 80 founding drivers up and going and kind of promote that community feel and get a bunch of passengers who really wanted it, who wanted that, but once you started trying to hire on hundreds and maybe even thousands of drivers in the Orange County and L.A. area, they were starting to see that, hey, maybe a lot of passengers just want to get from point A to point B. There are times when you might want to be friendly with your driver but most of the time do you feel like passengers just want to get from point A to point B?
Doug: Yeah. I think it’s a bit of both. The time of day.
Harry: Yeah, definitely.
Doug: The daytime people are usually trying to get from point A to point B and they’re very fine with polite, expected friendly small talk but they don’t really necessarily want to make a permanent connection which sometimes it was pushing that in a little bit but then of course your night, sometimes you’re tipsier, night time people would get into the heart to heart kind of talks and they would stay that, sometimes you’d hear from passengers, “Oh, my Uber driver really didn’t talk to me at all”. Even now, using both services as a passenger, it’s a bit of a tossup. It depends on the personality of the driver and I think less so on what both companies are telling the drivers to do.
Harry: Yeah and I think that especially now with a lot of drivers doing Lyft and Uber, you often get a lot of the same drivers whether you’re in Lyft or Uber but I do think that drivers kind of take on the persona of the company. You could have a Lyft driver who’s going to be a little more friendly when they’re driving for Lyft and once they hop onto Uber, if they get an Uber request maybe they are not quite as friendly. I don’t know if you’ve ever found that or saw that but that’s kind of a hunch I have.
Doug: Yeah. I think I’ve seen that and also what I’ve seen as a Lyft driver, your picture has been photoshopped in like three weeks afterwards so when I’ve requested a Lyft the drivers have seen that and some of them have been extra friendly because they wanted to please the driver and I think one guy kept going on and on about how Lyft loyal he was I thought he was overcompensating a little bit. I wasn’t a company spy. Sometimes people thought that kind of thing was happening when drivers using Lyft as passengers had a bad Lyft experience they would kind of like drag out the driver.
Harry: Interesting. I mean I think that community feel is obviously what drivers prefer. I think anyone who is doing this is probably going to say that they would rather talk to their passengers. They would rather be friendly and it just makes the job so much easier and I’m curious here, before we kind of move on, if you think Lyft has lost or how that community feel has changed among Lyft, because obviously they still do things like mentor rides and I know that I’ve seen driver meet-ups and things like that but there’s really no doubt that that’s all, I wouldn’t say on the way out, but it’s definitely past its peak, to put it bluntly. Personally I know that I kind of prefer that community feel and a lot of drivers do too. It just seems there aren’t enough rides with Lyft when you’re out there driving.
Doug: Yeah. Exactly. I think in the end, a paid employee is a happy employee or a paid $10,99 worker [inaudible 00:34:54] because really what I thought, there was a lot of community in the early days and pay was high and people were happy and then pay got lower and there was still community but the drivers became less happy and I think for most people priority number one by a long shot is to make a decent livable, either part time or full time, income. And if they don’t think that’s happening they’re just not going to be satisfied whether there’s a Facebook group or not. Still though, it would be nice to see with Lyft a little bit more of a community effort. I think it’s possible for them to do that. I think they probably have the money to try to more heavily promote those kinds of things but I think they’re just so focused on pricing wars we might not see that happen.
Harry: Yeah. It’s interesting and I mean I’ve kind of made it pretty clear that when people ask me which service I prefer driving for I do usually say that I prefer driving for Lyft. Especially as someone who is a part-time driver who doesn’t need to do it full time but at the same time I usually get a lot more rides when I’m doing Uber. So if I have both apps on, the Uber ping usually comes a lot quicker and more frequently. That’s kind of the catch 22. I think a lot of drivers are in that position where they prefer Lyft but they just can’t get paid. They know what they are getting with Uber but they also know they will get paid with Uber.
Before we move on I guess I’m curious too to know, do you think there are any lessons learned or is there a big take-away or maybe one or two take-aways that you took from your founding days that you can share with most of my audience who frankly is going to have a lot less experience? A lot of drivers are still signing up and there are a lot of new drivers out there and maybe even drivers with just a few months, maybe 3-6 months experience. So do you think there are any take-aways or anything like that for them?
Doug: Well for the drivers I think the take away would be to stay on your feet and be ready to move in a different direction at a moment’s notice. It’s unpredictable. It’s a very unpredictable market. Things are changing so fast and you’ve got here in California, we’ve got government rulings that put Uber and Lyft in jeopardy and there could be more rate cuts around the corner so you know appreciate it and do it while it lasts and while it works for you but I think you should be ready to possibly move to something else if you have to and I think for a new driver or someone who has had only a few months on the road is maybe to be happy with what you’ve got. I don’t know, it sounds a little bit cynical maybe but it’s live in the moment.
Harry: I think that’s great advice. I think it’s important that people shouldn’t be joining rideshare and signing up with Uber and Lyft if they want a stable career. If they want something where they don’t have to worry, they know that they’ll get a paycheck. This isn’t the type of job where you come on and you know if you work 40 hours a week you’ll get paid X amount of dollars and you can do this for the next 25 years. I think our whole entire labor work force is shifting away from that. I mean you see it with people like you and I. It’s very uncommon these days to meet a 20 something who’s been at the same company for more than two or three years, right? And we are seeing that even more in the on demand economy so I love that your advice of being ready for change, appreciate what you have while you have, because I’m sure that when you were a founding. . . I’m curious to know actually when you were a founding driver, did you think it was going to be like that forever? And obviously, you saw some change pretty quickly. It went from being pretty amazing to maybe a different adjective that you’d use to describe it.
Doug: Oh yeah. You know initially when there was a $15 per hour guarantee I knew that it just seemed so unsustainable to me and I knew that it wouldn’t last long and I couldn’t rely on it for very long and then once that guarantee drops and you’re out on our own I felt like a little bit on unstable ground but at the same time also very happy that I had this very flexible thing on the side. Now I wasn’t relying on it fulltime. I had other income that was getting me by and Lyft was helping me out and helping me save money for the future and things but I felt on shaky ground and even now that I’ve pivoted towards being more of a website guy, an online marketing guy, I do like that Lyft and Uber are still there as kind of a safety net for me.
Harry: Definitely. I’ve made it pretty clear too, I think that’s the best position to be in. This isn’t an industry where you are going to be on very stable ground. It’s tough if you have to really depend on it and fortunately though I do think there are a ton of opportunities that can kind of put you in a place where, hey if you are driving fulltime right now you can use your driving, whether is you’re networking or the business opportunities, and really what I try to help with is just recognizing those opportunities, taking advantage of them and that’s why I’m always bringing on different people who have seen different opportunities whether it’s as drivers or promoters or marketers and a lot of these opportunities aren’t going to last for a long time and you really have to be ready to strike and ready to take advantage.
There is really no shortage of people who are interested in doing this job and who will likely continue signing up. If you think, “Oh, there’s a thousand drivers right now. We don’t need any more”, like you said earlier, Uber’s goal is to have as many drivers out on the road which is quite different from driver’s goal. We want as few drivers on the road right?
Doug: Yeah, well, that’s definitely kind of the opposite.
Harry: So, not to make the perfect transition, but you do have something else on the side that you… I’m curious to know a little bit about how you started your website, ridesharingdriver.com. We’ll link to it in the show notes so people can go check it out. How did you see this opportunity to start a website, probably a very similar story to what I did, so I’m curious to hear a little bit about that before we wrap up?
Doug: Yeah. Well as a driver I saw that there was this big opportunity to promote. Promoting promo codes and also promoting jobs and referral links and also just providing content online for people to read about Uber and Lyft that wasn’t the news and wasn’t straight form Uber and Lyft. There was this huge void of content online by drivers for drivers that’s more along the lines of is it worth it and once you are a driver how do you make it work or even just so far as how do you become a driver, how do you meet the requirements, and how do you get a car and all those kinds of things that Uber and Lyft and the news don’t really address.
So I saw this good space for that and I have a background in building websites and writing blog content, and doing search engine optimization and things, and so I started Ridesharing Driver to provide content for drivers and to basically get paid in the process by promoting Uber and Lyft. Kind of like on your site, you want to be fair, you want to be balanced, you want to tell it like it is. For me, that is a challenge, kind of tell the truth about Uber and Lyft while still being able to promote the brand at the same time.
Harry: Yeah, definitely and I think it’s interesting too because a lot of times when you’re looking for opportunities I think it’s important to be, that it’s something that you’re interested in, something that maybe you have a little experience or background in and it sounds like for this, for you you’ve kind of aligned two of your passions, I guess you would say. You had some experience with online marketing and writing and then you also had all this experience obviously from working for Lyft and being a founding driver, and you basically merged the two into one product that has ended up working out really well for you, right?
Doug: Yeah, actually that’s really well said. It definitely started as a passion project. I didn’t necessarily expect it to be any more than a way for me to experiment with another WordPress site and a way to practice writing, to practice getting my thoughts out onto paper, and I see other drivers having that opportunity to merge their passion or their skills with the things I provided on Uber and Lyft. It’s funny, that was one of the things that Lyft recognized in the opening days and they kind of played that message a little bit to us that you could use Lyft in that way. You could be a Lyft driver in that way. You could use it for networking or promoting your own brand in an appropriate way, and things like that, and some drivers take advantage of that and others don’t.
Harry: Yeah and I think that’s the biggest thing, right? If you want to just pick people up and drop them off from point A to point B, you definitely can do that and obviously Lyft and Uber provide great platforms to do that but I think that there’s immense potential beyond that and I’ve always been kind of the person to recognize potential or opportunity and really try and take advantage of it and I know that if I didn’t start my site, I probably would have figured out something else whether it was networking.
I just hear so many cool stories about what people are doing in their car beyond just driving and I think that if you start something, especially when you’re trying to find new business opportunities, it is really tough to start something just because you want to make money and I think that’s the one thing I’ve learned with being a side entrepreneur my whole life. I’ve never really started a project just to make money but you do see people who do that and to be honest, working for yourself or these business opportunities are a ton of work. It’s really hard work. I don’t think people realize how much work people like you and I put into building a site. It’s not just writing an article a week and responding to emails. It’s a lot more that goes beyond that. You don’t really understand until you do it. Kind of similar to rideshare driving so I guess I’m curious to know your take on that and if there is any other final words of wisdom you want to depart to my audience, and also just let us know where we can find you and check out a little bit more info about you.
Doug: Yeah. Well if you think that any of your skills or experience kind of align with the opportunities you’re given by ridesharing because in a way that could be interesting or possible, just seek it out and start small, start cheap. That’s kind of the beauty of a website, that you can start for very little and even other entrepreneurial efforts, there’s always a way to do it as cheaply as possible and to turn out a profit of some kind whether it be articles on content or something else. There is always a way to produce that initial idea and present it to the world and see what happens. Basically seek out the opportunity and it’s worth the effort.
Harry: Definitely. Awesome.
Doug: Even if it doesn’t work out as you intended, a lot of the time you will see another opportunity or you’ll just have learned a life lesson in the process.
Harry: I couldn’t agree more and there’s definitely lots more we could talk about. Maybe I’ll have to bring you back on again in the future, in a year or two, when you’re now the most experienced rideshare driver alive. So awesome Doug. Why don’t you just real quickly let us know if there’s any last words for the audience or let us know how we can reach you or how we can find out more about your site and then I can link anything you’d like in the show notes too.
Doug: Well if you’d like to check out my site, you can see it at ridesharingdriver.com and if you’d like to get in touch with me, you can get in touch with me at [email protected] and I’ll try to answer and let you know as quickly as possible and if you’d like to start a conversation, just reach out and we’ll talk.
Harry: Perfect. Awesome. Well Doug, I definitely appreciate it. It was really cool to kind of take a peak back and take a look back at what it was like in the early days so I definitely appreciate you coming on.
Doug: Thanks a lot, Harry. Thanks for having me.
Harry: All right, take care.
Doug: Take care. Bye bye.
Harry: Cool. So another episode of the Rideshare Guy Podcast in the books. I hope that you guys enjoyed that interview with Doug. I know that I did. It was definitely cool for me to kind of take a look back and see what Lyft was like in the early days because for most of us a lot of people are pretty new. I know that we have a lot of new drivers in the audience and even if you do have a lot of experience, maybe you’ve only been driving for three months or six months or even a year, and it was cool to kind of look back and see what it was like in those early days and just to see how opportunities can evolve and how gigs can evolve. I think that there was some really cool take aways that I got at the end when Doug was talking about things like being able to recognize opportunity and being up for the challenge, being ready, appreciating what you have, because one thing that I’ve noticed as you guys probably have is nothing in this industry is very constant, right?
Whether you’re talking about income or rates or hours, this isn’t the job where you go out and you work 20 hours a week and you’ll get paid X dollars per hour and you know that you can just do this for the rest of your life. I’d say it’s probably at the opposite end of the spectrum and for the more drivers who really embrace that fact and who start looking at it from that perspective and saying, “Hey, what’s the opportunity for me right now? Is it referring new drivers? Is it referring new passengers? Is it the most lucrative thing that I can do, just go out and drive?” And then also finding those areas where you can align it with something that you’re passionate about.
If you’re super passionate about driving, then maybe there are ways that you can figure out these opportunities that you can go above and beyond what you’re doing as just a driver. If you’re really passionate about marketing, then you can go and turn your rideshare vehicle into an ad mobile or whatever you need to do but basically figuring out what you enjoy and then also what you’re good at because that makes a huge difference too and then seeing what the opportunities are because I think a lot of people try to force themselves into things and they try to force them down certain paths and certain roads, and that’s when you start to get burnt out, and that’s when you start to really just not enjoy what you’re doing, and I think that in this world today there really are a lot of these opportunities where, let’s be honest, a lot of the stuff is still work but it’s a lot more enjoyable and you can really make it a lot more enjoyable than other lines of work or if you’re just going out there and you just want to do as many rides as you can in an hour and get people from point A to point B and get paid as much as you can and that’s all you care about, it’s going to be tough because things are always going to be changing.
There’s always going to be more drivers signing up. There’s always going to be things like rate cuts or little issues that you have to worry about and I think that if you go in with the right mindset, the mindset plays a huge part because like I always say, if you want to just get people from point A to point B, you can, but if you want to go above and beyond and look at all these ancillary opportunities which is where I think the real opportunity is, you can definitely also do that too.
Hopefully you guys enjoyed this podcast and there’s lots more to come. I’m going to be doing a ton more interviews and a ton more podcasts. This is something I really enjoy so hopefully that comes out in these interviews and if you guys have any feedback good or bad, definitely let me know. Leave a comment, checkout this episode online, therideshareguy.com/episode22. Make sure you subscribe in iTunes. Leave us a review. We’ll give you a shout out if you leave us a review. Check out all of the show notes. We do pretty extensive show notes now and I do a transcription of every single podcast so if you don’t want to listen to my voice you can always just read the transcripts, and you also can sign up for an email list, be notified of new articles and podcasts, and lastly, if you guys ever have any questions, anything at all, feel free to email me. I reply to each and every single email, so make sure you take advantage of that while it lasts. All right guys. Until next time, take care. Be safe out there.
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This is a transcript of Episode 22: From Founding Lyft Driver to Rideshare Blogger. You can find show notes, comments and more by clicking here. You can also listen to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
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