Loup Helps SF Locals Create “The Perfect Morning Commute”
San Francisco’s public transportation isn’t always the most reliable, which is why many people choose to use ride sharing services such as Lyft, and Uber.
Buses don’t always run on time, and our subway system won’t get you everywhere you need, so these alternative car services are a welcome new option. But what if we rethought private car services, giving them the things we like about public transportation, like predictable routes and lower prices? That’s exactly what a San Francisco startup named Loup is doing, and it’s announcing that it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding.
Loup is a bit of cross between a private car service and mass transit. Just like with Uber, Lyft, and so on, passengers can book a ride from a car through a mobile app. And just like buses and trains, Loup runs predetermined routes and does so frequently. Although Loup’s model offers a lot of flexibility around the vehicles it can use, the company is first starting with black town cars through local limousine companies it has partnered with. It will take a 20 percent cut from each ride.
Loup’s first route will be similar to the San Francisco Muni’s 30x route, ferrying its passengers from the Marina neighborhood all the way to the Financial District during work commute hours. That particular route is a popular starting point for startups seeking to solve the work commute due to the high volume of passengers — both Chariot and the currently quiet Leap Transit got their starts with it.
“The 30x is the reason why this company exists,” said cofounder and chief executive Abtin Rostamian in an interview with VentureBeat. Rostamian himself endured that commute when he first moved to San Francisco and experienced the packed buses that often wouldn’t even pick him up because they were too full.
That said, Loup’s route will change over time, depending on its users’ demands and as the startup optimizes its routes. They might even change from one day to another if, for example, construction requires a detour.
Loup is also designed to be flexible when it comes to the cars in its system, as mentioned. While it’s starting with the standard black cars which can seat up to three passengers, it can easily contract larger or additional vehicles based on demand.