Catching up with 2017 Velocity Fund Finals $5K and $25K winner: ShiftRide
In March of 2017, ShiftRide pitched and won $5,000 at the 18th Velocity Fund Finals (VFF). Later that same year, they won $25,000 at the 20th Velocity Fund Finals. ShiftRide is an on-demand mobility platform that provides easy access to other individual’s cars nearby. They are currently building their business out of the Velocity Garage.
We caught up with Nima Tahami, co-founder of ShiftRide, for a post-VFF update.
Q. How has your company developed since winning VFF?
Nima Tahami: Unfortunately, our team has split apart as two of our co-founders left in mid-2018 to pursue different opportunities. One co-founder, Mohsen Mohsenpour, is finishing school, while Deepak Parpyani has left to pursue a software job in San Francisco. I am still working on ShiftRide and helping it grow beyond the Region of Waterloo. Thankfully, we’re all still close friends.
Q. What is your company currently working on?
Since VFF, we have expanded and are connecting even more idle cars with people around the city. Within a few months, we went from having only three cars available in the Kitchener-Waterloo Area through the ShiftRide platform to 15 cars, and from providing 50 trips a month to over 250. The funding from VFF allowed us to cover our operating expenses and helped us to market to more students. We want people to know about our service and to try it with a free first trip.
Q. Since your win at VFF, what has been your team’s most exciting moment?
Our most exciting moment was when our peer-to-peer insurance policy was published and we were able to sign up individual car owners without any hesitation on their insurance. The number of cars that signed up that month more than doubled!
Q. What has been your team’s most frustrating moment?
Our most frustrating moment was when we were looking to raise our seed round. We had a difficult time convincing investors because we were a bit too early for many of them.
Q. Do you have any major accomplishments that you want to share? What’s next for your team?
A major accomplishment for us was when we proved that we can expand rapidly without convincing every individual car owner to join ShiftRide. Instead, it was our idea to turn used car dealerships into ShiftRide supply partners. By sharing a portion of their inventory on the ShiftRide platform, these dealerships can turn some of their parked cars into revenue generating machines.
We have tested our idea with one dealership, thus far. We are excited about this new business model because the dealership has really benefited from a service like ours.
The next step is to sign more dealerships. We’ve already started working with another car dealership and we’re looking to expand beyond Waterloo and into more cities. All while giving individual car owners the opportunity to make money from their parked cars.
Q. What do you enjoy most about building a startup?
One of the most enjoyable things about building a startup is visualizing and realizing the immense amount of opportunity ahead of where you are today. Staying focused on why you exist as a business and then aligning your actions to pursue that opportunity, despite the uncertainties, makes building a startup that much more enjoyable.
Q. What did you like most about competing at VFF?
Aside from the opportunity to win money, the opportunity to present an idea or concept in front of an audience is an awesome feeling and VFF was the first place to give us that opportunity. There is also a networking aspect of VFF that could lead to many great opportunities, as most people in the audience are either working on a startup/project or really excited about starting one.
A funny story: the very first time I pitched at VFF $5K back in 2015 (for a different project), I met someone with whom I became friends and we later ended up co-founding a startup together. I didn’t even get past the qualifiers round in that pitch.
Learn more about the Winter 2019 Velocity Fund Finals today!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.