In Miami, not only is technology driving jobs, it’s even driving driving-jobs. Just look at Lyft, the app based car share program that gets users from A to B quickly, safely, and with a novel social experience to boot.
To find out more about the company’s entrance into the Miami market, the team at Pacific 54 spoke to communications specialist Paige Thelen.
Here’s what she had to say about driver response times, the genesis of the app, and working out of The LAB in Wynwood.
What is attractive to Lyft about this market?
A couple of things. We noticed how much residents in Miami rely on their personal vehicles to get around, and we believe it’s a time to allow them to choose to leave their cars at home whether they’re going to work, a lunch meeting, or out to dinner, and that’s one reason.
Also, tourists choose to visit Miami all the time, and for those who are not familiar with how to get around, it’s a great option for them.
Good point, tourism is the leading economic engine for Florida…
We absolutely saw that as a big factor for Lyft. And then we saw this really great, vibrant community of artists for whom friendship is a passion, and these characteristics are at the core of the Lyft experience.
We want our users to embrace the passion, enjoy the ride, meet each other, and have a connection along the way.
Will you continue to expand throughout South Florida?
That’s definitely on our radar. We’ve started with Miami for now and we’ll see about expansion depending on how we see demand increase.
What is the response time, and how does it relate to geolocation? Miami-Dade is a very spread out county…
I can pull up the coverage map, one second…the wait time does depend on where you are, and it’s typically 5-10 minutes. We brought on a great group of founding drivers throughout the area, so it’s not going to be too long a wait.
When you open the app it says something like ‘8 minutes away,’ and then there’s an option for you to “request a Lyft.” You hit confirm and the driver appears via a photo of their face and car, and you actually see them on the map coming toward you, so you know exactly where they are.
Is this a good option for daily commuters?
Absolutely! We’ve seen that use case a lot in other markets as well. People use Lyft to get to and from work. Or maybe they use public transportation to get there, and Lyft to get back. Or maybe for some reason they have to leaver their car at work overnight, so this is another option they can consider instead of their own vehicle.
Can you talk a little bit about the history of the development of the app?
The company has been around since 2007. It started out as ZimRide which was more of a long distance carpool platform. For example, a route that’s really popular in California is San Francisco to LA, so you could go on and see who was planning to go and hop in to share the ride.
That was the first product from the co-founders. Lyft came about in 2012 as the instant and mobile version of ZimRide, within cities, and for shorter distances.
The whole idea is to fill the empty seats in cars today. It all has to do with capacity. Our co-founders noticed that 80% of seats in vehicle on highways are empty.
There are all these 3, 4, and 5 person vehicles on the road causing traffic and pollution, so the idea is to fill those seats and increase sustainability in cities, decrease the need to own a car, which is the second highest household expense today.
When the idea first struck, Lyft was going to be a female-only service. Then we realized that if we supported a strict safety guideline system that everyone would feel comfortable using it.
Who conducts the in-person vehicle inspections in Miami?
We have two team members in Lyft Miami working with our new drivers and we also have our leading drivers, which we call “mentors,” and they’re fully trained to conduct the vehicle inspections.
Has anybody ever gotten married thanks to Lyft?
There are people in San Francisco who have gotten a Lyft to City Hall for their wedding. We’ve had a couple elope via Lyft, so there have definitely been some fun stories like that.
How did you come up with the pink mustache?
It’s been around since day 1. Early on, one of our co-founders saw one on a car on the street and fell in love with it.
He was introduced to CarStache, which is the company that invented it, and decided to put one on every Lyft vehicle. And as for the inventor of CarStache, we actually brought him in-house. He actually works for us now as an inventor.
Does the company have a contingency plan for the possible proliferation of driverless vehicles?
Not at this time, but it is an exciting space that we are definitely looking at.
How Many People DO The Coding for Lyft, will there be any regional development teams in places like Miami?
We have a big engineering team here in San Francisco. I’m not sure, maybe 30 or 40 people. It’s a very advanced application. It looks simple on the front end, but it’s complicated on the back end.
What kind of marketing efforts and social media have you undertaken for Miami?
We’re doing a launch party at LMNT, and we do offer new passengers free rides through the Lyft Pioneer Program to give people a chance to meet our founding drivers. And when you create an account through the app you automatically get two free rides.
We’ve also been interacting with people on Twitter. And we have a team on the ground meeting with local community members to spread the word about us. Lyft is also offering users in Miami 50 free rides for two weeks with the promo code 2WEEKSFREE.
You just have to download the app and enter the coupon code in the Payment section. And in addition to the Pioneer Rides, you can enter Isaiah777 as a promo code to receive and extra $25 credit toward a future ride. And if you want to apply to be a driver, we have incentives for that as well.
What is the mapping API?
It depends on the type of phone you’re using. On the iPhone it’s Apple Maps and on the Android it’s Google Maps.
Does Lyft have any interest or perspective on the Miami Tech scene?
Absolutely. Our team has been working out of The LAB in Wynwood and have met a lot of local folks there and we’re always looking to meet with locals. Our team who’s in Miami now helps us launch new cities by going all over the country to meet the people, the new drivers, and to help Lyft get off the ground there.
The LAB was the right space for us with the right people.
Do you foresee any problems with the drivers being ticketed like in Hillsborough County?
We don’t believe so. We’ve had several positive discussions with Lyft leaders to address this new form of community powered transportation.
People here seem pretty excited about the service, any special message for the people of Miami?
Yeah, we’re just really excited to be in Miami and meet the community and for them to experience Lyft.