Bandwagon, a NYC-based Startup and 2013 Verizon Powerful Answers Award Winner, Makes Significant Progress in Little Time

A Q&A with David Mahfouda, CEO of Ridesharing Startup Bandwagon

By on May 5, 2015

Verizon is now accepting ideas for the 2015 Powerful Answers Award

Expanding its ongoing commitment to innovation and social responsibility, we are currently accepting submissions for the chance to win up to $1,000,000 in prize money. Enter here by June 18th, 2015: verizon.com/powerfulanswers/award/.

Every day millions of people travel in the same direction at the same time, but in separate vehicles. According to the New York Times and a team of engineers and mathematicians, if New Yorkers were willing to share a cab, the result would be a significant reduction in traffic jams, time, savings, and conservation of energy.

Bandwagon, a Brooklyn-based startup and winner of the 2013 Verizon Powerful Answers Award in sustainability, makes it easy for consumers to share taxis, and thus save time, money, and CO2.

According to Bandwagon’s website, the ridesharing app is changing the way people commute, accommodating travelers by “reducing a 'curb crunch' in taxi lines, improving customer service, and providing savings and benefits for everyone.”

Since winning Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award in 2013, the company has made significant progress, including a partnership with United Airline's EcoSkies program and event transportation businesses in Boston, Las Vegas, and New York.

We caught up with Bandwagon’s CEO David Mahfouda to learn more about how the company has leveraged their Powerful Answers Award prize money, and what’s new with the startup.  

How did you find out about the Powerful Answers Award? 

We run Bandwagon out of the NYC Accelerator for a Clean and Resilient Economy (NYC ACRE) Incubator and the NYU Urban Future Lab. NYC ACRE shared details regarding the opportunity among its mailing list, and we figured why not!?

Did you think you could win when you entered? 

Honestly, not really. Bandwagon has a great concept that can impact the way literally billions of human beings think about and use mobility services, and we have significant traction in our early markets — but still the prospect of close to $1M in unrestricted funds seemed too good to be true.

What was your first thought when you found out you were a $700,000 winner? 

Disbelief. Then I just started getting really amped about the prospect of putting that capital to work at the company.

How has the money made a difference in your efforts?

The Verizon grant was a huge validator for our business — it enabled us to win additional grant opportunities, in addition to raising Series A4 capital. We were also able to significantly build out our team, board, product, and advisor network.

What did you do with the money?

We hired a stellar team, significantly improved our product, and went to market! The results have been fantastic; we now have a partnership with United Airline's EcoSkies program — with whom we are running a taxisharing program at Newark Airport that's been very well received. We've won a number of additional awards from New York State, Ford, and the Department of Energy, and we have growing event transportation businesses in Boston, Las Vegas, and New York.

What do Verizon’s efforts in this space mean to organizations like you?

Verizon's interest and investment in transportation and new mobility is extremely validating for me personally and for Bandwagon as a company. We believe that mobility will continue to be radically reorganized around new information technology and information culture, and we're psyched that major corporations like Verizon are on to the radical shifts that are about to rock the auto market — particularly in urbanized environments.

What’s next for Bandwagon?

Growth, growth, growth. We're expanding as a leader in the event and airport transportation markets — where existing transportation costs are really high — and where consumers are demonstrating real excitement around collaborating and connecting with other travelers. We're developing strong relationships with airlines, airports, major events, and major convention centers throughout the country.

Can you explain how you are an asset to consumers in the New York Metro region?

Bandwagon is the best way to save up to 40% (in addition to carbon emissions) on a taxi to or from NYC-area airports, and to and from major NYC-area sporting events and conferences. Who knows – you may meet another stellar New Yorker!

Tags: Verizon Powerful Answers Award winners, VZPAA, sustainability