The student news site of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

International students launch company

Alumnus and student from Cameroon, West Africa create ride service app

Photo by Sierra High / Photo Editor

Patrice Achu is a former UW-Whitewater international student from Cameroon who helped create the app. The company currently employs five drivers, who have passed background checks and vehicle standards.

Brad Allen, Biz & Tech Editor

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You’re stranded in Whitewater and can’t drive to Janesville to find a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift at the city’s shopping mall. You want to visit friends in Madison, but your car broke down. Or maybe you just had too much to drink definitely shouldn’t drive home. Who do you call?

No, Ghostbusters is not the answer in these situations. However, two UW-Whitewater alumni believe they can offer a solution.

Seeking to connect the local community is a major goal for two former UW-Whitewater international students from Cameroon, West Africa, Patrice Achu and Patrice Timchia, who plan to launch their ride service company, Rydepass, in the near future.

Achu’s inspiration behind his company stemmed from his experience without a car at UW-W. He attended UW-W as an international student from Cameroon. He graduated with an accounting degree in 2010.

“Getting around town was a huge challenge, especially in the winter,” Achu said. “It was even harder trying to get a ride to surrounding towns such as Janesville, Milwaukee or Madison if I wanted.”

The car service app is similar to the Uber and Lyft apps. After launching the app, users will see if a driver is available and how many minutes away they are. Users can request a ride immediately or for a future date. Drivers receive a notification and meet customers at a specified location.

Fees increase based on mileage and are listed in the app.

The ride service is not limited only to Whitewater. Users can request transportation to other surrounding cities, such as Janesville, Milwaukee or Madison.

The Rydepass platform tracks and bills for each ride based on the duration and distance of the trip. The longer the distance, the more money the driver will earn. It is up to our users and drivers how far they want to go.

One of the benefits of Rydepass is not having to maintain a vehicle.

Rydepass promotes safe driving after drinking. Having something like that is really important in a college town. I think this is something Whitewater has really been needing for a while.”

— junior Miranda Haanen

“It makes it easy if you don’t have a car on campus,” junior Miranda Haanen said. “It saves money, since you don’t have to pay for parking or car insurance.”

Perhaps the biggest benefit is the ability to find a ride when a person is not able to drive safely.

“[Rydepass] promotes safe driving after drinking,” Haanen said. “Having something like that is really important in a college town. I think this is something Whitewater has really been needing for a while.”

Achu said he hopes Rydepass will help to eradicate drunk driving if many people use the ride services.

There is a certain level of skepticism among some about using transportation services. Haanen acknowledged these concerns, but noted that Achu and the other drivers are trustworthy and reliable.

“Patrice keeps in good contact with his drivers, and they have full responsibility to make sure people get around safely,” Haanen said. “It’s pretty reliable and safe.”

The company has invested in a platform to ensure that each ride can be tracked.

Rydepass is partnered with PayPal and Stripe, through which customers pay drivers for their services, whilst keeping financial information secure.

Students and community members can apply to be a driver for Rydepass. All applicants are vetted to ensure drivers pass a background check and possess the necessary proof of insurance. Their car also has to meet certain minimum functionality standards.

“We understand that for a ride share service, the no. 1 issue is always trust and safety,” Achu said. “Our company values honesty, hard work, trust, reliability and putting our customers first. Our driver recruitment process is a bit stringent for this same reason.”

Achu said he is deeply grateful to the other team members, all current UW-W students or alumni, who helped to design Rydepass and launch the company.

“They rallied with me to form a high-performing team,” Achu said. “I want to give a shout out to them. It was a pleasure working with them.”

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The student news site of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
International students launch company