Anyone who's ever driven a long distance knows that solo road trips are much, much harder to power through than ones that are filled with fun conversation (and shared costs).
"When I was a business student, I did a grueling, 18-hour drive from Chicago to Houston, with the same 40 boring songs playing on my iPhone and my family calling to make sure I didn't fall asleep at the wheel," says Gordon Taylor. "I wished I could have shared the trip with others who were going the same way."
So Taylor improved upon the emerging idea of ride-sharing with Croozen, a platform that pairs riders and drivers who are headed to the same (often faraway) destination. Users can choose their desired price, route, and even driver, and the app splits the cost with the credit card on file — no more scrambling to find crumpled dollar bills at the gas station. And you can book your seat up to 12 hours in advance, which provides peace of mind amid other travel chaos.
And safety? Croozen's got that covered too; the company has a partnership with Turn Technologies to check each user within seconds.
Users have the ability to share their ride with an outside contact, so someone else always knows where they are on the trip, and there are safety check-points which allow the riders’ emergency contacts and Croozen to be alerted if any user feels unsafe. Upon sign-up, Croozen also asks and verifies each user's gender so that females can select the option for women-only rides if they wish.
The sophisticated chat feature doesn't share your phone number with others, and your line of communication stays open for up to three days after the trip concludes, in case you forget something in the car. Pet-friendly rides, too, are on the horizon.
"I haven't had a car in the last five years," says the globetrotting Taylor, who's lived in Zambia, New York City, South Africa, and Chicago before returning home to his native Houston. "My girlfriend and I were going to a concert and got a ZipCar, but wished we could have shared that cost with someone else who was going too. If there had been the opportunity to hook up with someone when buying the tickets, we would have absolutely done it."
And that'd partly how Croozen has grown since its inception in 2015: Partners such as BandWagon and university-sponsored ski groups funnel customers to Croozen, taking a small commission from each successful pairing.
The company is based mostly in college towns for now, but Taylor has plans to roll Croozen out to the general population, with a special focus on less densely populated areas that may not have great access to public transportation.
"Houston has a great opportunity to become a tech hub," says Taylor. "It's one of those places that allows for the community to drive what’s happening there, so it's important for us, as a start-up, to be a growing Houston tech company."