Make It in Brooklyn: Dollaride
Founded by Brooklyn-based social entrepreneur Su Sanni, mobility startup Dollaride makes transportation more accessible for New Yorkers underserved by public transit. The company name “Dollaride” originates from “dollar vans”, a transportation staple in communities with poor bus and subway access, filling the transit void. Over the past five years, the Dollaride team has developed a rideshare app that connects dollar van drivers and riders – helping drivers grow their businesses, riders enjoy more efficient service, while reducing car traffic and lowering the carbon footprint of riders’ commutes. Today, the Dollaride team explores new product ideas and collaborates with industry peers as a member of NYU Tandon’s Urban Future Lab.
New Yorkers at Work
Sanni was born and raised in East New York, and his uncles and neighbors were among the original operators of informal dollar van routes in the 1980s. His connection to and understanding of the industry inspired him to start Dollaride, and he saw an opportunity to leverage and develop New York talent. To this end, Dollaride actively recruits employees from Brooklyn and beyond, and offers a fellowship program that provides students and recent New York grads a paid opportunity to gain experience in urban mobility tech.
Recognizing Major Achievements
Dollaride’s mission-driven work has attracted significant attention since its launch. The startup was named “Rookie of the Year” in the 2019 Make It in Brooklyn Innovation Awards, and was one of only four teams selected for Squarespace’s 2020 #MakeItAward, in recognition of their innovative product and potential to benefit the city. Recently, NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) announced Dollaride’s Clean Transit Access Program as a phase one awardee in its Clean Neighborhood’s Challenge. Dollaride proposed a partnership that would convert two hundred vans into electric vehicles for deployment along routes in transit-poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Being a finalist in a state-wide competition represents a major milestone for the organization and they are eager to continue their work creating positive change in the communities they serve.
Community Support for Growth
With fluctuating dollar van ridership trends due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dollaride pivoted to offer an “enterprise” subscription service for businesses in need of employee transportation. Through forging strategic partnerships with companies and launching the Gateway JFK route (which serves commuters in Jamaica, Queens). Dollaride saw some of the highest ridership numbers during the pandemic, averaging 35K rides per month. Anticipating ongoing ebbs and flows in ridership, the team at Dollaride is focused on creating partnerships with New York City colleges and universities, to provide shuttle services for students.
Dollaride has raised over $1.6M to date which includes $417K in crowdfunding. With this, they have expanded their business and team with 7 full-time and 15 part-time employees and plan to hire additional talent this year. This expansion puts Dollaride on their way to successfully providing a supplementary transit system for New Yorkers across the city.
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