Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have persuaded millions of Americans to trust people not licensed as taxi drivers to give them quick rides, but no company in the U.S. has been able to get the masses to take long-distance trips with unregulated drivers.
Tripda, a service trying to change that, announced Thursday that it has raised $11 million in venture capital. The announcement comes two days after Zimride, a competitor founded by the team who later started Lyft, announced that it would stop serving the general public to instead focus on college students and corporate users.
Tripda, founded last year, launched in the U.S. in November. Using its app and websites, drivers post that they'll be making a long trip soon. Potential riders can then search and sort through the listings. The app is free to use for now.
Tripda doesn't do background checks on drivers or their vehicles. It relies on peer reviews, payment verification and syncing with Facebook profiles to provide a sense of security to both parties.
Usage in the U.S. has doubled each month of the app's first couple of months in the country, according to Adi Vaxman, co-chief executive for North America. The average ride has been 184 miles, with a range of a couple of dozen miles to cross-country trips.
Vaxman said the popularity of "sharing economy" apps such as Airbnb and Instacart is leading people to trust increasingly bigger tasks to only partially vetted strangers.
"It's definitely and absolutely opened minds to do things they would never do before, from sharing your home to sharing a meal to getting a ride with an unlicensed taxi driver," she said.
German start-up incubator Rocket Internet AG and an undisclosed New York City venture capital firm provided the funding to Tripda, which has an office in New York City.