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HERide: Getting Atlanta’s Women from Point A to Point B Unbothered

Profitable Startup Poised to Go National

DeVynne Starks, HERide
DeVynne Starks
Jillian Anderson, HERide
Jillian Anderson

As an Uber driver in Atlanta, Jillian Anderson noticed that many women and female-identified people felt safe in her vehicle. These passengers would offer to hire her privately for transportation outside of the Uber app. 

Inspired by that, she and serial entrepreneur and marketing and communications expert DeVynne Starks launched HERide, a rideshare service for women drivers. 

“When I listened to the business podcast How I Built This, I found out that it only took two people to found Lyft and Uber; everything clicked from there. And I’ve been locked in ever since,” says Anderson.

Anderson serves as the chief technical officer, and Starks’ background is in strategic planning and partnership development, project management, public relations, and content writing. 

The site and logo and accompanying social media come in a classy shade of purple and incorporate the symbol for “women” into the brand name. While the app was under development, the founders posted some material related to general female empowerment. Now that HERide has been launched, their channels appear more tightly focused. 

Overcoming Obstacles, Becoming Profitable

HERide isn’t the first rideshare service to be aimed at women. Others have launched and then had to close their doors or pivot due to problems ranging from accusations of gender-based discrimination against men to difficulty raising the capital to compete in a market saturated by two dominant firms. 

Anderson and Starks are aware of the difficulties they face but believe they can succeed because of their combined skill sets and experience and because of the success they are already enjoying. 

Currently operating in the Atlanta metro area, the service has been featured in Essence and Black Enterprise magazines, and its founders have appeared on several podcasts. They have also provided 432 rides for customers from March to September 2022, breaking 1K/week in gross profit. 

In the fundraising stage, Anderson and Starks hope to raise $1.5 million in venture capital. This was roughly how much it took to get Uber and Lyft off the ground. People can also donate amounts ranging from $1 to $20 on the HERide website or purchase HERide-branded clothing and tote bags. 

HERide Application
HERide Application

Anderson describes how and why her background and personality suit her for this role. 

“Not only do I know the market space because I was an Uber driver, but I think like an athlete. I played sports as a teen, and that made me a new person, used to sustained work and improvement and to take risks. And I’m fearless, I will keep going since I don’t want to let customers or investors or our staff down.” 

Empowerment for Drivers and Passengers

Happy Women passengers of HERride
Happy Women passengers of HERride

HERide’s drivers keep 80 percent of the price customers pay for each ride and tend to earn more than the average pay from mainstream rideshare companies. HERide also claims to offer drivers greater schedule flexibility and the ability to plan their workdays to a greater extent than other rideshare firms. Providing economic opportunities for women is part of HERide’s mission, along with rider safety. 

“Built with the needs of women in mind, we aim to improve the lives of women everywhere through safe transportation, job creation, and financial security,” their website reads.

HERide drivers receive 80 percent of the fare the passengers pay, and most have said they want the flexibility of gig work but with the chance to earn a living wage. 

Priding themselves on getting women and girls from Point A to Point B “unbothered,” HERide thoroughly vets each potential driver and administers a background check. In-ride security features also provide a safer experience for both riders and drivers. 

Although HERide serves passengers regardless of gender, they can choose which riders to accept and rate their passengers on the site. As long as the service has existed, no driver or passenger has ever mentioned any safety issue with HERide. The company has been approved by Atlanta’s Department of Public Safety and has set up a partnership where they can pick up passengers (along with Uber and Lyft) at Atlanta’s main airport. 

HERide’s services are competitive in price, according to customers, and can even be cheaper than other rideshare options. Users remark that HERide offers relatively affordable rides home from the airport, for example. They are already the #1 most frequently used alternative to Uber and Lyft in the Atlanta metro area. 

HERide offers online video tutorials to simplify the processes of booking rides and becoming a driver through the company. Their goal is to create 1,000 jobs within the Atlanta area in 2022, and as of last spring, they had already received around 250 applicants. 

“It’s all about options,” says Anderson. “We’re providing this option for women who would like a women-centric rideshare.” 

They currently have 95 active drivers (as of November 2022), which is not nearly enough for the market demand, so they are hiring! 

Networking and Fundraising as an Introvert

She’s learned that raising capital involves networking, connections, and a solid idea and performance. Neither she nor Starks come from Ivy League universities: she was Starks’ resident assistant at Georgia’s Albany State University. However, she remains upbeat and confident. 

“I’m not going to sit here and diss the VC space. It’s just one more place to which I need to adapt, and I’m doing that!” 

If she could start over again, Anderson says, she’d start raising cash much earlier (as well as not launch during Covid!) 

HERride application
HERride application

With the help of a support system that includes an accountability partner and a therapist, she’s attending and making the most of at least one networking event a week as an introvert. 

“I grew up without many other entrepreneurial role models in my family,” she says. “But they came around when they saw how well I was doing as an Uber driver, and they supported me in this new venture.” Starks is also more extroverted and helps with the promotion and communication aspects of HERide. 

Future Goals

Woman traveling with HERide
Woman traveling with HERide

Once they raise the needed funds, Anderson and Starks plan to expand HERide to serve passengers nationally and internationally. They will reach out beyond Atlanta once they hire 1000 drivers and hope to expand beyond rides to set up a boot camp to train women who want to work in transportation and logistics. 

With over 12,000 downloads of the HERide app in the first months of operation, they seem poised to reach a greater market.  


TROORA MAGAZINE | MAY 2023
WRITTEN BY CRISTINA DEPTULA
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HERide

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