Zemcar made its official debut in Boston on Monday, and is now targeting further expansion and strategic partnerships, Mobility Buzz learned.
Zemcar is a specialized rideshare program with a focus on safety for people under 18. The Boston-based company has been operating a soft-launch since April 2016, and is now officially available, starting with the neighborhoods of Brookline, Chesnut Hill, and Jamaica Plain within Greater Boston.
The startup bills itself as a door-to-door scheduled rideshare, meaning that a person can book a car ahead of time and drivers will escort a passenger to and from the front door and act as a porter as well, said Lisa Eisenbud, Zemcar’s chief engagement officer. Zemcar also prioritizes the screening, training, and interviewing of all drivers for additional safety.
Zemcar has found success in working parents who want to keep an eye on their children, as it allows live streaming of the backseat of a vehicle for the person who booked the ride. But the company has also found success with senior citizens, women, and working professionals with temporary injuries that require more assistance to and from a car, Eisenbud said.
The company is continuing to roll out its launch in Boston, and will announce strategic partnerships in April, Eisenbud said.
But there are also current trials happening in San Francisco and New Jersey, as well as a beta program in the Dominican Republic, said Bilal Khan, Zemcar’s founder and chief executive. Zemcar has plans to expand into another undisclosed “major city” this year, Khan said, “but we are still hashing this out.”
The company is able to launch in specific neighborhoods, instead of a whole city, due to its business model, which allows for on-demand ride-hailing but is primarily focused on scheduled ridesharing. This means the company does not need a large pool of drivers to service a busy downtown area, but can instead expand in smaller markets with fewer drivers, Khan said.
The areas of Brookline, Chesnut Hill, and Jamaica Plain are situated close together and are some of the most affluent neighborhoods in Greater Boston. With a Zemcar ride starting at a $15 minimum, and the average ride hovering around $20, the company looked closely at areas that could both need and pay for its service, Khan said.
“One thing we are looking for is the demographics,” he added. “[It] should be a town where they can afford the service like ours. We are not competing on price but on quality and safety.”
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