01 Oct Bubbl is on a mission to disrupt the rideshare industry
While rideshare is convenient, especially in a city like Dallas, it certainly has its risks. That is until a new company came along with a new approach.
Bubbl, a rideshare company that uses current and retired law enforcement as its drivers, started as just an idea in the fall of 2015. In April 2016 the company launched, finally going public in August of that year. Today, the Dallas startup boasts over 6,400 customers in five service areas: South Dallas, Dallas, Plano, Frisco, and now Austin. We talked with Paul Adams, one of the founders of Bubbl, to get a better idea of what this company’s mission and vision moving forward.
When did you first get the idea to create Bubbl?
I was fortunate enough to do well in corporate America, and I wanted to do something a little bit different. [The idea for Bubbl] just came to be through conversations with a few colleagues and my wife. We were like ‘what are we going to do?’. I had always wanted to start something so we just noodled this whole idea. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we had up and coming teenagers that would be driving. We were sort of looking at, you know, the issues that surround teenagers in cars, drinking and driving, and one thing led to another. We did some focus groups in the community and vetted the idea with moms and dads, and it just kind of took off from there.
We came up with the name based on where we live, Park Cities, which is often called “the bubble”. We thought it would be synonymous with the service that we were offering, to just sort of wrap up a kid, someone with a special need or an elderly person in a bubble, and have someone safe and secure get them from point A to point B just made sense. More importantly, it made sense for our kids.
What are some of the challenges that your company has faced?
I think probably our biggest challenge is we are not your traditional rideshare. People don’t hail us like they do Uber and Lyft. We are not on-demand service, we are prescheduled. People think, when they talk rideshares, that somebody is going to instantly pick you up. That’s not who we are. That’s not who we want to be. Honestly, when we started we very much thought that we would compete just like Uber and Lyft, and pick up just about anyone. But our customers started to shape who we were. We realized our niche was serving individuals with special needs, the elderly, children over 8 and women, Those are the verticals that we excel at. That is who has become our customer.
I would also say, learning how to deal with capacity has also been a challenge. Logistically making sure that you’re able to do the pickups and dropoffs at such a high volume, takes a lot of skill and logistics to match the number of drivers, the number of cars, and the number of customers. That has been the biggest learning lesson, having to go from doing five rides a day to 300.
Why does Bubbl employee off-duty and retired law enforcement?
A couple of reasons. One is that they are a vetted workforce. They serve the community, which we felt is what we would be doing too. Second, I think that what we pay our law enforcement officers is less than acceptable. The average officer here in Dallas makes $45,000 a year. They want to raise their family and send their kids to college the same way anyone else does and you can’t do that on that salary. Bubbl became a viable second employer for these law enforcement folk. Plus, I also think Bubbl serves its purpose by putting retirees back to work because many of these officers retired at a young age and they’re still eligible and eager to work. So I think that our hiring former law enforcement satisfies another social issue that we have, is putting people to work.
What other services does Bubbl provide?
When we are not moving passengers, we are engaged in small package delivery. We also have our courier company called Bubble Dash. People look at us as a safe and competitive alternative to move that cargo throughout the metroplex. Whether its payroll checks or its keys or its jewelry or its something, people are looking at us to move their precious cargo. We do documents and papers and take dogs to the vet and pretty much anything in that sort of white glove, concierge sort of arena, we do it.
Your thoughts on doing business in North Texas?
They always ask me what I think of Dallas, and I always laugh. I’m an East Coast guy. I’m not a Texan. When people ask me what I think of Dallas, I almost feel like they want me to dump on Dallas, and I always answer it the same way. I couldn’t think of a better place to start and own a business. It has a lot to do with the economy, it’s so good and so strong that it’s just an amazing place to do business.
Second, there are so many smart people in this town that have pushed my business forward. Without those people, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When I think about those two things and then I finish it off with the mere fact that the south is a very kind place to do business. Growing up on the east coast, it’s a little bit rougher of a business environment. Here I think people genuinely pay it forward. I think we have been extremely lucky to have an opportunity to grow our business in this town. The customers are just superb. The amount of press and media coverage and the accolades the customers give our drivers…this is just the place. I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.
Advice for other startups?
Being an entrepreneur is an eight day a week job. The best advice I can give is that you are only as good as the people around you. If you are surrounded by the right people, doing the work that really matters, there is pretty much no limitation. You have to recognize that you can’t do it on your own. I took on a lot of responsibility early when we opened this company and if I had tried to do it all myself, I would have never been successful. I consider myself successful now because we built the company and our revenue continues to increase month to month. But you are only as good as the people around you. When it’s hard, yeah it’s hard, but everyone around you is kind of pushing forward too. You have got to surround yourself with talented people and you just have to forge ahead. You have to be committed to it. That’s why it’s an eight day a week job.
Bubbl plans to add four more service areas by the end of the year, bringing the total to nine. These include:
- Greenwich, CT
- McClean, VA
- Panama City, FL
- Houston, TX