Have You Heard of Sherpa? Q&A With Co-Founder Ryder Pearce
Owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast.
June 16, 2014
A lot of people like to look at their daily summaries but there’s a lot more that goes into how much you make each day. In fact, there are lots of questions analytics can answer that should make you a more efficient driver over the long run. Being a more efficient driver means that you can make more money while working less. And that’s something we should all be interested in.
With that in mind, I reached out to the co-founders of Sherpa a couple weeks ago and I got a nice e-mail back from co-founder Ryder Pearce. We ended up chatting on the phone for around 45 minutes and talked about everything from career and family to rideshare. I know some of you have already asked me questions about Sherpa and I see lots of questions about Sherpa in some of the Facebook groups so I thought it would be useful to do a thorough interview with him and get some of the most popular questions answered.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment and Ryder or myself, or both will respond to you.
1. How did you get into the rideshare space?
The idea that true ridesharing could help transform our cities has been an interest of mine for a long time. I’m a transportation planner, so I’ve spent several years helping develop innovative transportation projects in cities around the country and abroad. I even started a regional rideshare company in Vancouver, BC last year which is helping connect people on long-distance trips, from Vancouver to Whistler for example.
2. Why did you guys decide to start Sherpa and how many users do you currently have?
When my co-founder, Jianming, and I started talking about the space, and the successes of Lyft, Uber, Sidecar and others, we had the idea that providing support and insight to drivers – rather than a direct rideshare service – would be really important for the hundreds of thousands of new micro-entrepreneurs. We decided to spend countless hours with drivers, listening to what they wanted to see, and build Sherpa based on their feedback. It’s been amazing to talk to and help so many drivers, even in our preview stage.
We have over 1,000 drivers from Lyft and Uber using Sherpa, from every city that Lyft and Uber are currently operating in, and will be integrating with Sidecar in the near future.
3. So what exactly does Sherpa do and why is it important for drivers?
Great question. SherpaShare, or Sherpa as we like to shorten it too, is a free add-on service for rideshare drivers, particularly from Lyft and Uber, to help drivers get insight into their driving income and costs. Drivers can easily integrate their earnings statements and quickly compare how they are doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
We’ve heard many stories of how our analytics has been helping drivers. Broadly speaking, our service can help you make decisions, for example, on when to drive, who to drive for, and eventually where to drive. Having a place to keep all of your expenses for tax time has been a really big interest too.
4. What’s the most useful data point a driver can see by using Sherpa?
What we think is great about Sherpa is that there are many different ways a driver can look at their income and costs to see how they’re doing. For drivers who only use one service they can directly add in mileage on their Dashboard, and then quickly see what there hourly income is after expenses. Was it a slow day or my best day yet? Should I think about changing up my driving days?
I think one of the other most useful cases is for drivers who are driving for more than one service – currently around 1/3 of Sherpa drivers and this number is growing. You can compare your income on Uber versus Lyft – and eventually others.
5. How are you ensuring the privacy of our data?
We’re quite serious about data privacy and security. Some have compared us to a “Mint.com for the sharing economy” and if you know much about Mint, they have some incredible technology to ensure privacy of their users. Right now, everyone who integrates with Sherpa should feel confident both their identity and data is secure – and we do not disclose any personal information to Third Parties. Sherpa is for you – the drivers!
6. If Sherpa is free, then how do you guys make money?
Our priority is providing an amazing free service to drivers, so it becomes a no-brainer for a Lyft or Uber driver to want to try out and become a power-user of Sherpa. Many companies have had this approach, and to take Linkedin for example, have offered premium services or advertising down the road, without changing the experience. We’ll keep you updated on which direction we go.
7. A few claim that you’re working for Uber or Lyft or have some other hidden agenda. How do we know that Sherpa is a true third party?
I think because there has been such intense competition between Lyft and Uber for example, coupled with the fact that very quickly we’ve gone from zero to over 1,000 users, people didn’t know quite what to make of Sherpa. We’ve been very transparent about our goal to provide a free service for drivers – and eventually other ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ – and as people get used to hearing about Sherpa, they’ll realize that the power in what we’re doing is routed in being an independent third-party. All three major rideshare companies – Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar – know about our service and independent position.
8. Any secret features that you’re working on that you can share?
I can tell you about our big feature announcement from last week, which was CityMetrics. Basically, this provides local driving data for each rideshare city or region – and we have several cities who’ve “unlocked” this feature. It’s based on having a mini critical mass of drivers in each city. This is the first version of this particular feature, and we will be making changes based on driver feedback, so hope folks can take a look in their city.
A Word From the Editor
First off, a big thanks to Ryder and Sherpa for taking the time to respond to all of my questions. I don’t have any type of financial relationship with Sherpa other than the fact that I think their service is awesome and it is a hugely valuable resource for all rideshare drivers. So if you’re interested in signing up for Sherpa, you can do so by going to their website. Like Ryder mentioned in the interview, Sherpa is completely free and they are a completely independent third party.