RideScout and Austin’s Growing Transportation Startup Ecosystem

9/4/14Follow @angelashah

Perhaps it makes sense that a hub of transportation innovation takes shape in car-crazy Texas.

A booming economy has brought droves of new migrants seeking work and clogging the roads. And while Texas’s metro centers are attracting urban pioneers to revitalized inner-city communities close to work, most still make ever-longer commutes. And that’s prompting Texans to embrace new transit options, creating an environment ripe for entrepreneurial spark.

“It’s not a coincidence that RideScout and Car2Go emerged in Austin,” RideScout founder Joseph Kopser told me in an interview Wednesday. “The Texas economy is made of pioneers who love to create new things.”

RideScout, which Kopser describes as “Kayak for ground transportation,” is being bought by Car2Go North America, a fellow Austin transportation technology company operating in the Texas capital. RideScout’s app—which gives users real-time information on transit options, including bus and rail service, taxis, and car-sharing services such as Car2Go—will become a subsidiary of Germany-based Daimler AG, which owns Car2Go and is better known as the maker of Mercedes-Benz.

“Now, we have the resources of Car2Go, moovel, and, ultimately, Daimler behind us,” Kopser said. “It’s really powerful.”

Terms of the deals were not disclosed. Separately, Daimler also announced that its moovel subsidiary—which owns the Car2Go brand—bought myTaxi, a taxi-booking app started in 2009 in Germany, in which the automaker already had a 15 percent stake.

The acquisition is the next step in a partnership that began two years ago, Kopser said. “They were in our beta; they had an open [application programming interface] that allowed booking and reservations of their cars through our app.”

Kopser said he had first met moovel chief Robert Henrich 18 months ago in RideScout’s early days. “This was when he was building moovel, which is like RideScout in Europe,” Kopser said. “We weren’t much of anything. We were only in Austin, with just a few options.” But Kopser added that Henrich was intrigued, asking his staff to “keep an eye on RideScout.”

RideScout has now launched its app in 69 cities in the United States and Canada and features more than 300 transport options from car rentals and bike programs to taxis, trains, and buses. Kopser and Henrich reconnected earlier … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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