By Allison Matyus
Gone are the days of unsuccessful hailing of cabs; these days, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft provide convenience through technology to get where you need to be. But what if you want to get there in an environmentally conscious way?
Enter Chicago-based startup, G-Ride. This rideshare with a purpose is gearing up for its launch in the spring of 2017 and founder Stephen Cutter hopes it resonates with those looking for a way to help out the world, but don’t know where to start.
Cutter said that he himself was a “typical American” that didn’t pay as much attention to global issues as one should.
“I started making my kids watch nature documentaries to monitor their TV watching and that sparked my own curiosity,” he said. “I began watching them too, and took on a new mindset and started to come up with ideas to help change this planet.”
He said that one of the main things he realized in his own experience is that often, people wanting to be more environmentally friendly think it’s too broad of an issue and don’t know where to start.
“Through my research, I’ve found that 85 percent of people say they want to be green but the cost and convenience doesn’t match up,” Cutter said.
The concept for G-Ride has been a year in the making and Cutter used his own experience both using and driving for rideshares to figure out a new way to ride.
Passengers that use G-Ride will be picked up in a hybrid, electronic or low gas per mileage vehicle by requesting a ride through a mobile app. For every ride, the company will plant a tree in a rainforest through Eden Projects, and eliminating carbon footprint through Carbonfund.org.
“It gives [the consumer] a greater reward than themselves, which I think is the ultimate form of consumerism,” Cutter said.
Cutter is also working on more incentives for passengers to be engaged, including having the option to sign environmental petitions through the app during the ride with the incentive of reward points that can add up to free rides.
“This engagement would educate people on issues that matter while making their voices heard as well, which is why we will stand out,” Cutter said. “I’ve found that 55 percent of people have said if they are given a choice between a socially eco-conscious company or a competition company that is not, the one that has a mission based behind it is the one consumers will choose.”
The mission, Cutter said, goes beyond just the environment. Through G-Ride, he hopes to create a company that gives back and is invested in the communities and the people as well.
Cutter said that drivers will have equity in the company as well as a host of other benefits, and the app will encourage passengers to tip their drivers.
“We want to make sure compassion gets shared with everybody,” he said.
Chicago is the first city G-Ride will be available in, and Cutter said that they want to be in other cities as well by the end of 2017, although they are not necessarily looking at the obvious markets.
“If you go into an eco-conscious city and you are a green rideshare, you could be a little but of white noise,” he said.
Headquartered in the Wicker Park neighborhood, Cutter said G-Ride will also host events to engage the community to make a difference, including one recent event that benefitted Standing Rock. A kick-off event will be held at the headquarters, 2412 W. North Ave., on Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.
For Cutter, the main goal of G-Ride is to enact positive change.
“One of my best friends became a monk four years ago…I run a lot of my planning and strategies by him to make sure I am in harmony with the universal laws,” Cutter said. “I’m trying to run a business that is monk-approved.”