Although ride-sharing apps for smart phones are not that altogether new, one Ohio-based company has created a ride-sharing app that is a little different from all the rest, saving people the pain of selecting someone to be a designated driver.
BeMyDD, or Be My Designated Driver, allows users to book personal chauffeurs for a night out on the town. But instead of the hired driver picking up a user in an unfamiliar vehicle, the driver will drive the user’s vehicle, taking the user to as many locations as desired, for a flat rate.
Arthur Simanovsky, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said the company is the nation’s largest designated driver service operating in the nation, currently operating in 76 cities, Columbia included, in 31 states.
“Our slogan is ‘We drive your car, so you don’t have to,’” Simanovsky said. “It’s like a chauffeur service but in the convenience of your own automobile. It’s always great to have a designated driver, but, normally, no one wants to play that role.”
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Simanovsky said the app launched in Columbia, Greenville and Charleston a little under a year ago and has been flying under the radar as it tries to identify its consumer base. The app is currently operating at a $17 per hour in South Carolina, Simanovsky said.
Michael Donner, the company’s chief marketing officer, said users like the idea of being driven around in their own car and not having to worry about parking or paying a valet.
“If you want to have a night on the town, you can call the 800 number, or through our local app or website, reserve a driver. The driver will come to your home and pick you up and drive you in your car and wait for you,” Donner said.
The driver will stay with the user’s vehicle until “you’re ready to be picked up. You simply call the driver and he comes out front and takes you to your next destination,” Donner said
Ride-sharing apps have been at the center of many criticisms on both the national and local levels recently. As Columbia city officials wait on a decision of whether to regulate ride-sharing companies in Columbia like taxi companies, Councilman Cameron Runyan said he thinks that as long as everyone has a level playing field, the market should be left alone.
“When you have more competition, you’re going to drive the quality of service up for everyone,” Runyan said. “It’s not fair to have two different sets of rules. I believe in a market driven system – everyone in the market needs to play by the same set of rules. Once that happens, let them compete within those rules.”
But, Donner said BeMyDD is different from other service from others because “you’re hiring an individual to drive your car.”
The company covers each trip with a $2 million insurance policy to make sure they alleviate any worries users may have about their personal vehicle getting into an accident, Donner said.
BeMyDD also offers a “Peace of Mind” program that allows for potential users to reserve a team of drivers that will shuttle around members of a wedding party or corporate party, even make multiple trips, in order to get everyone to their destination safely.
“It’s a safe way to ensure that no one is drinking and driving, and you’re providing the most responsible thing as a host to do for a party or event,” Donner said.
BeMyDD drivers are put through an extensive background check in national criminal databases, sex offender registries, social security traces and driver’s license checks before they become an independent contractor for the company, company officials say.
“We are operating on small margins and looking at making a difference,” Simanovsky said. “The goal is to have the kind of benefit for the community in creating jobs and decreasing the number of drunk drivers.”