After three decades running a local taxi company, Michael Khadem saw an opportunity to connect customers with drivers using their own vehicles amid the popularity of ride-hailing mobile apps in San Antonio.

Khadem, CEO of ETI Limousine Charter and Taxi, launched his own ride-hailing app startup — Leep Rideshare Technology LLC — in 2017.

Leep Rideshare began pilot testing its mobile app last year with about 250 drivers using the technology in San Antonio. In March, it expects to roll out a public beta in the city.

The startup sees itself as a competitor to Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., offering a bigger cut of revenue for drivers. It’s counting on its relationship with drivers to convert riders.

“We believe that the drivers are a very important part of the equation,” said Khadem, whose taxi company has 80 vehicles. “We don’t want to compromise safety for revenue, and we believe in the human touch.”

Michael Khadem, CEO of Leep Rideshare Technology LLC, began pilot testing his startup’s ride-hailing app last year.

The startup has an advisory board of drivers and a customer service dispatch agent on call for users of the service. It mandates background checks for drivers and pays for that service. Users can order a traditional taxi from the mobile application, an SUV or other luxury vehicle. There’s even room for other taxi companies to regain some market share by adding their vehicles to the mobile application.

“Once we get the app going, any taxi company can be part of the app. It’s not just limited to ETI,” Khadem said. 

The impact of ride-hailing apps on the San Antonio transportation industry has been drastic, and the alternative vehicles have captured about 80 percent of the market in the past several years, the executive said.

The startup aims to differentiate itself from the competition with a product for corporate accounts that enables businesses to order a fleet of vehicles through the mobile application for rides at events or conferences.

“We believe the human element is missing, so we decided to do something about it. So what I’d like to tell our drivers is we understand, because this side hustle is our main hustle”

Khadem’s co-founder, Matthew Carter, who is Chief Technology Officer at Leep Rideshare, felt like “the human element” has been missing in ride-hailing applications as companies look toward autonomous vehicles.

Leep Rideshare has plans to expand across the four major Texas markets as it scales and sees itself as a nationwide startup. It has been bootstrapped to date.

Original Article Written By Kristen Mosbrucker  – Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal

Original Photos Taken By Gabe Hernandez- Photographer, San Antonio Business Journal

Link to Original Article