The gig economy spawned an entire sector of apps for apps, tools made for your phone to help you side hustle more efficiently when people swipe up your driving or food delivering or dog walking services from their phones. Gridwise got on the ride-hail road in 2016, joining other driver helpers Rydar and SherpaShare, which both also direct drivers to high demand locations and events, and track mileage and expenses. Drivers can also choose Uber and Lyft two-timing enabler Mystro, cheap gas station mappers, standalone mileage trackers and weather predictors, among other options.
Gridwise’s niche within the apps-for apps space is crowdsourced information. Other drivers working nearby rainy roads, long airport pickup lines and fare-rich conventions tell their fellow side hustlers via a user-contributed and Gridwise-verified network what is really worth the trip.
Now Gridwise expands to five more U.S. cities with a focus on useful airport pick-up information. It will be in all major U.S. markets by the end of the second quarter of this year.
The company’s cofounder and chief executive Ryan Green was still an officer in the Navy when he started driving for Uber and Lyft in 2015. More information would have helped him drive more efficiently and thus more profitably. Gridwise started as a weekly email and a daily text message service in Pittsburgh in July 2016. Drivers got information about hot spots in the city and started providing tips and tricks on their own.
“There was this strong sense of camaraderie among drivers,” Green said in a phone interview ahead of next week’s expansion into Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Austin. “Drivers weren’t only interested in consuming information, but they were also crowdsourcing data back to us through the mechanism of the text message. They were telling us traffic, or what position they are at the airport [arrival pick-up line], or this event that’s going on.”
In the early years, Gridwise’s functionality was tested and improved during the addition of cities in the northeast.
Today the free version of the app offers transit schedules, airport queues, time and mileage logging to generate performance metrics, and a calendar of nearby scheduled events. Gridwise culls public information and then prompts drivers within the app to contribute first-person experience. The crowdsourcing is optional, but Green said adoption is strong, as compared to Waze and its frequency of user-added alerts. To maintain the integrity of the crowdsourced tips, Gridwise verifies drivers’ input, and all drivers can rate the value of the alert with a thumbs up or thumbs down.
A premium version called Gridwise Plus launched earlier this month. For $9.99 per month, drivers get personalized alerts and more airport information in an ad-free environment. Gridwise’s other revenue comes from advertising. Third-party services offering product that is potentially useful to drivers are displayed in the app and the Gridwise blog, email and website.
To date, Gridwise has raised $570,000 and is currently preparing to seek a seed round. It markets through word-of-mouth and strategic partnerships with other upstarts in the mobility space such as Cargo and zTrip.
In the long term the company wants to use the network of information it has created to contribute to broader mobility improvements, including innovation for our driverless future. “The big picture here is we’re helping human drivers understand when and where to drive,” Green said. “This service provides a centralized aggregate view and really positions itself as a decision layer within the workflow of the driver. It’s a lot of the same challenges that a fleet operator will deal with in autonomous driving.”