Tech transportation startup goes live in Richmond

roundtrip execs

From left: Ankit Mathur, Angela Damiano and Mark Switaj. (RoundTrip)

Weeks after graduating from a local accelerator program, a transportation tech startup has caught a ride with GRTC as it goes live in its home market.

RoundTrip, which helps patients set up rides with non-emergency medical transportation providers, last week launched its service in Richmond.

Founded by Mark Switaj in Philadelphia in 2016, the company has since added an office in Richmond and is live in seven states.

For its Richmond entrance, RoundTrip is participating in GRTC’s CARE On-Demand program, a one-year pilot program to transport disabled passengers.

Chief technology officer Ankit Mathur said working with a transit provider such as GRTC is a new way of entering a market for the startup.

“A lot of our clients have been health systems or outpatient facilities,” Mathur said. “This is the first time with a transit company. It fits nicely with our current service offering.”

Users can book rides online or by phone, and RoundTrip is developing a mobile app. For drivers, it taps into a network of already-operational medical transport companies. It charges a service fee for each trip booked, Mathur said.

RoundTrip will compete in the GRTC program with local ride reservation app Uzurz, which joined the program in August.

“It’s not an exclusive deal, it’s whoever can deliver best value to the ridership,” Mathur said.

He said RoundTrip offers expanded hours for paratransit for GRTC passengers. It operates Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Uzurv operates for GRTC Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., per GRTC’s website.

The cost to use the GRTC service is the same for both companies. Customers pay the initial $6 and GRTC pays up to an additional $15.

Uzurv had used Uber and Lyft to connect with riders on the GRTC program, but lost access to Uber in September after Uber claimed it violated its terms of service by using Uber’s name and logo for profit. Uzurv founder Matt Donlon said Uber drivers and passengers still can use Uzurv to schedule rides for everyday, non-medical transport. He said Uzurv is still operating with GRTC through Lyft.

Mathur said RoundTrip aims to expand offerings in the Richmond market beyond the GRTC service.

“First and foremost we want to expand our footprint in Richmond, with area hospitals and health systems for their medical transportation needs,” he said.

Mathur said the company, which have permanent local office space, hopes to move into Capital One and Startup Virginia’s incubator being built in Shockoe Bottom. The building is expected to open in early 2018.

RoundTrip has 11 employees, four of which are locally based.

The startup was part of Lighthouse Labs’ 2017 class, which concluded in late November. A wrap-up party and pitch competition for Lighthouse was held last month at Capital One’s West Creek campus, at which RoundTrip beat out its classmates for the top prize of $5,000.

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