RSG178: Driver Owned Ridehailing in NYC

Low pay, high commission, no ownership in the company you drive for – these are just some of the complaints I’ve come across by drivers about rideshare companies over the last 7 years. But what if there was a company that wanted to upend that model – ridehailing by drivers, for drivers?

It exists, and in this interview, I’m talking to Alissa Orlando and David Alexis of The Drivers Cooperative, a driver-owned and operated ridesharing model. This model is really interesting because it’s already up and launched – passengers know about it, drivers know about it, etc. We’ll talk about how the idea for this model came about, how did they market the Coop, what the response has been and more. 

Listen to this episode on your phone here.

Intro to Alissa and David

  • Alissa is the co-founder and Managing Director of The Drivers Cooperative
  • Before that, she headed Operations for Uber in East Africa
  • David is a first-generation New Yorker who began driving for Uber in 2016 to support his family
  • He began organizing drivers in the city to improve working conditions for drivers

The Drivers Cooperative – How Did it Begin?

  • Idea came from the organized group of drivers who were getting burned out by the grind of fighting for drivers’ working conditions
  • Very regulated industry in NYC
  • Initially came about to help drivers manage their money/expenses as drivers
  • Drivers said, what if we just owned our own app and set our own prices?

Funding + Finances

  • Initial funding came from brands
  • Growth capital is funded by loans – from fellow cooperatives!
  • Launched in NYC because of minimum wage floor
  • Less likely to get in a price war
  • Profit-sharing

What are Drivers Saying?

  • Drivers signing on because of pay!
  • Profit-sharing, which is common in cooperatives
  • Addresses a lot of pain points drivers have had

Passenger Response

  • Progressive community of passengers who want to support this
  • Coop rides are a social statement – may not be 75% of the market, but it’s a $5b market!
  • 10% or more of market share

Biggest Challenges

  • Improve operations
  • Limited number of drivers
  • Longer wait times


  • Thanks to Alissa Orlando and David Alexis for coming on the show!
  • If you listen to this episode, you’ll want to be a part of this, too!

Show Notes