Recently, we covered a new rideshare company called Bounce, and many of you had questions about how busy Bounce rideshare is and how much drivers with Bounce can make. Today, senior RSG contributor Will Preston covers that, plus an interesting conversation he had with one Bounce rider.
Imagine trying to compete with one of the biggest companies in the world, and you’ll have some idea of what life must be like for the founders of Bounce. With all of Uber’s challenges – not the least of which is turning a profit at some point – it has been successful enough to be synonymous with rideshare. Uber has joined Xerox, Frisbee, and Kleenex as a company whose name means the thing it does. Many of my Lyft passengers say “I’m in an Uber” when they’re on the phone with a friend.
However, the founder of Bounce seems to have seized upon a few things about Uber and Lyft that might allow Bounce to attract both passengers and drivers. Bounce tells passengers that everyone pays the same fare; there’s no pricing based on where you live, where you’re going, or how busy it is. Bounce tells drivers they get a piece of the company and residual revenue based on helping the company grow.
Bounce is still pretty new. According to Web Archive, it’s only been about 18 months since the JoinBounce.com website went live. Until August of 2018 the website didn’t say much more than “Join Bounce, we’re different.” I do remember seeing signup banners a while ago at one or two of the events I worked, but the point is they’re still relatively new.
The Bounce Rideshare Sign Up Process
Bounce wanted to see a screenshot of my current driver rating on Uber or Lyft, which I assume they use to weed out bad drivers. I also had a recent inspection for Uber and Lyft and was able to submit that, instead of having to get a new one just for Bounce. There was also a process for me to agree to a background check.
Once I was approved, they then wanted me to visit Bounce headquarters. That process won’t scale, of course, but for now they want to be very hands-on during the signup process. My first impression was they could do a lot better at making a first impression. It’s a small office in a much bigger office building, but that wasn’t it. Even though I was given a set time range to visit headquarters, the person who greeted me seemed surprised to see me, and the physical layout didn’t seem very welcoming. I’m sure this process will become more polished as they grow, but my first impression was not a strong one.
I turned on my app that weekend and started getting rides. I got three rides the first weekend I signed up, after which I got an email from someone congratulating me. He said I was in his network and he wanted to welcome me onboard. Unique to Bounce, you are given the email addresses of anyone who signs up with your driver ID. I thought that was very interesting, and a very different experience than what happened when I signed up for Uber and Lyft.
Driving with Uber, Lyft and Bounce
For a while I drove with all three apps on: Uber, Lyft, and Bounce. I would turn them all on, then put two of them offline if I got a ride on one of them. The problem with this method is that the small window that Bounce got every few minutes simply wasn’t enough to get me any Bounce rides. They’re just not big enough yet for that method to work.
It also didn’t help that their ride alert is the most subtle of the three. Lyft’s alert is the opposite of subtle and never gets missed. Uber’s alert is inconsistent, and sometimes gets missed in time for me to respond. For unknown reasons, the first 10-15 seconds of Uber’s alert is often silent. Uber support always blames it on my phone, my Bluetooth, or whatever. Funny it never happens with Lyft.
But if Lyft is a 10 on the noisy scale, and Uber is a 6, then Bounce is a solid 3. It’s a subtle alert that I sometimes don’t notice until it is too late.
Giving Bounce an Opportunity
I felt I needed to give them more of a fighting chance if I was going to write an article about driving for them. I began picking one rideshare app and adding Bounce. I would drive just Uber and Bounce, or just Lyft and Bounce. Once I did that, I started getting more rides with Bounce.
Many of them were farther away than rides I would normally take with Uber, but I took them anyway. I would definitely do it if the distance to the passenger was close to the distance the passenger was going for their ride. This example shows a ride that was 1.7 miles away and was going 1.6 miles with their ride.
One reason I would take the farther rides was I was doing this article, but I also tried to put myself in the mind of some of the Bounce drivers I met. They want Bounce to succeed, and it’s not going to succeed if new customers don’t get a driver when they request a ride.
I’ve met several Bounce drivers who are willing to drive a very long way just so a passenger gets a Bounce ride. I didn’t accept any of the rides that were super far away, like this one that was 9.2 miles away and was only going 3.3 miles.
I talked to my passengers and asked them about their Bounce experience. I would ask them why they chose Bounce, given that a typical Bounce pickup time might be longer than what they could get from Uber or Lyft. Almost all were unhappy with one thing or another about Uber or Lyft. Maybe they didn’t like surge, or maybe they read an article about Uber’s corporate behavior. But they all seemed to have some reason for preferring Bounce over Uber or Lyft, even if it resulted in longer pickup times.
How Much Did I Make with Bounce?
I made about $50-60 every weekend I drove for Bounce. That puts it in line with what I was earning with Lyft when I was driving primarily with Uber – before Lyft had their big boost a few years ago. (I used to get about 10% of my revenue from Lyft when I was driving Uber & Lyft. That’s picked up these days to about 20-30%, depending on how a weekend goes.) So while it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s still respectable.
Event Pickup with Bounce
I also experimented with doing an event pickup with Bounce. With certain venues, such as the Sports Arena, Bounce has an agreement to provide a queue. If you want to drive that event, you get in the Bounce queue, and it’s a first-in first-out queue. Passengers requesting a Bounce ride at that location are given a PIN, and the driver has a place to enter that PIN. Once you do that, you’re matched with that customer, which is a much more civilized way to do event pickups, for sure.
I don’t personally do event pickups for Uber or Lyft. You need to get there early at an event whose ending time is questionable. I remember sitting in the Uber/Lyft queue for a Guns N’ Roses concert for an hour and a half because Axl Rose didn’t know when to quit. Then, after waiting that time – during which I wasn’t making any money – I got a 3X surge to somewhere 1.5 miles away that took me 1 hour to drive. So I made less than $10 for 2.5 hours of work.
That’s why I personally never do event queues or airport queues. But if you’re going to do it, the Bounce way is the most civilized way to do it.
Overall Experience Driving with Bounce
Overall my experience was positive. The app works pretty well both on the passenger and driver side. It was pretty buggy when I tried it the first time, but it’s gotten a lot better. For example, there was an issue with location tracking on iPhones, but it’s been resolved. I’ve had no issues with getting paid.
I do think the ping sound is a too quiet. Also, the driver-passenger texting feature needs some work. It’s built into the app, but there’s nowhere to see message history. So if you want to see the message the passenger sent you with their gate code, for instance, you can’t.
I received credit for all those who signed up with my driver code from the first article I wrote. You can see below I’ve signed up 17 drivers and 29 clients.
I don’t yet have any residual income showing up, as the network data from last month still says “under review.” That means I’m unable to tell you if Bounce considered me “Active” last month, which is what determines if my stock options will vest or not. I would also like to see this available on the website, with more than just this month and last month.
If Uber or Lyft are surging, I don’t turn on Bounce or take a Bounce request. I’m not sure what Bounce’s long term plan is with surge. I’m all for helping out a new company, but not if it means cutting my fare in half or two thirds because Uber or Lyft is surging. There was a night when there was a 2.0 Uber surge. Neither Lyft nor Bounce got turned on when that happened.
My Favorite Bounce Ride
I was having a bite to eat when I got a Bounce ping from the airport four miles away. I left Bounce on during my break because I really wanted some Bounce rides. It said it was going to be a 25-mile trip, so I headed to the airport. I sent a message to the passenger to make sure to go to the rideshare pickup area. He responded with a thumbs up.
I met the passenger and began my usual banter about using Bounce, and he told me his experience was inconsistent. Sometimes he’ll get a driver that’s right around the corner, and other times a driver will be driving the opposite direction and not respond to his messages. I explained why I thought that might be happening. He said it made perfect sense, and we discussed how that would likely get better as Bounce got more popular.
I asked him how long he had been using Bounce and he said quite a long time. I responded with surprise and asked how long is that? He said, “Since the beginning.” There was a pause, followed by, “I founded Bounce.” That’s when I realized I had Mark Potter as a passenger. I said, “Well, you’re not going to believe who I am. I’m the guy who wrote the Rideshare Guy article on Bounce!” We had a good laugh, and then a great conversation that I agreed to keep off the record so we could just talk.
I can say we had a very frank discussion and he seemed very receptive to suggestions on how to make Bounce better. I encouraged him to read the comments on these articles so he could see what non-believers felt. I dropped him off at his very nice house in Rancho Santa Fe, and then I… Bounced.
Readers, would you be interested in trying new rideshare companies even if it meant you wouldn’t be as busy and potentially make as much money right away? Would you try something like Bounce if it came to your city?
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-Will @ RSG