12th July 2023

5 minutes reading time

RideTandem raises £2.3m to keep fighting transport poverty

Blackfinch Ventures leads investment into the mobility provider RideTandem enabling £40m in new earnings by improving access to jobs for people let down by expensive, unreliable, or absent public transport

London, DD July – RideTandem, a mobility-as-a-service startup providing sustainable transport for all, has raised £2.3 million in a new funding round led by the Gloucester- based investment firm Blackfinch Ventures. The round also included participation from other new investors FirstMonday VC and Rainmaking Impact and additional backers through the Seedrs investment platform.

Ridetandem’s existing investors, 1818 Venture Capital, Ascension, and Low Carbon Innovation Fund, also followed on. The new investment comes after a previous seed round raised in May 2022. It brings the total raised by RideTandem to date to £5 million, with the company on course to achieve £1 million ARR and launch its first services outside the UK later this year.

RideTandem partners with local taxi, minicab, and coach companies to provide high-quality, affordable, reliable, and sustainable shared commuter services for employers whose staff would otherwise be unable to work due to the cost, inconvenience, or complete absence of existing public transport options. RideTandem’s services have enabled passengers to earn more than £40 million in wages since the company launched in Q4 2019 by unlocking otherwise inaccessible jobs. 

It offers two mobile apps, one for passengers and one for drivers. Its proprietary dispatch system includes driver and fleet management features and a driver app, and the company also works flexibly with transport partners to integrate with their existing systems while providing high-quality fully-managed customer service with 24/7 availability and support for digital ticketing, which many transport partners are using for the first time. Employers benefit from a dashboard showing – among other data – attendance, allowing them to adjust shifts accordingly.

The passenger mobile app offers live location features for vehicle tracking, easy block-booking, and flexibility about when payments are taken – the latter two being features missing from most ride-hailing and mobility apps but critical for low-income workers. The average passenger rides 20 or more times per month, generating higher and more consistent recurring revenue per rider than most ride-hailing apps.

Trips on RideTandem services have helped avoid more than 8,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions to date. The average RideTandem vehicle carries more than 20 passengers, compared to 1.14 for the average commuter car, and operates at more than 70 per cent capacity. Employers can also purchase carbon credits to offset emissions from their workers’ commutes – making the company an ESG-friendly investment and choice for environment-conscious commuters.

RideTandem operates outside of cities and large towns, in areas across the UK where the problem of transport poverty has the strongest economic and social effects. Recently-acquired customers include DPD, which is already seeing a 50 per cent reduction in per-passenger transportation costs and a 38 per cent reduction in the total cost of its employee transport provision. Lidl and Next, with long-term partners including Royal Mail, Direct Table Foods, and staffing agencies First Call Contract Services and Everest People Solutions.

The rising cost of living in the UK has fuelled a demand for this service as increasingly precarious financial circumstances for many have compounded the impact of the long-term decline of public transport services across much of the country, with a recent survey finding that 68 per cent of low earners – and 71 per cent of people without a car – are concerned about the implications of the impact of bus service cuts on their ability to work.

Speaking about the problem, RideTandem co-founder and CEO Alex Shapland-Howes said: “Even before the cost-of-living crisis hit, public transport outside of big cities was broken – expensive, unreliable, or simply not there for people who need it. Almost 5,000 bus services – more than one in four – were axed between 2012 and 2022. Many that remain, especially outside cities and large towns, are under threat from the recent end of the Bus Recovery Grant. Too many people are left with a stark choice – car ownership, which is itself increasingly prohibitively expensive, or simply not working. That’s not right – it’s not good for individuals and their families, and their social mobility and mental health, or for communities more broadly, and it’s not good for the economy.”

Reflecting on the new investment and RideTandem’s progress since closing its previous funding round in May 2022,** Shapland-Howes added**: “It’s been an incredible year of growth for us, serving new customers, putting on routes in a wider range of regions across the UK, and moving into white-collar use cases alongside our core blue-collar business. We’re proud of the impact we’re making for our passengers and partners – with an NPS score of 81 in our most recent survey the proof of the pudding – but conscious that there is much more to do as the cost-of-living crisis shows no sign of abating. This new funding will enable us to keep enabling people to get to work and supporting businesses with recruitment and retention, both here in the UK and – for the first time – overseas later this year.”

Reuben Wilcock, Head of Ventures at Blackfinch, said: “It’s rare that you come across a business that is generating positive economic, social, environmental impact on such an impressive scale at such an early stage. That’s because to do that you need much more than a good idea and the best of intentions. You need a really solid commercial model to underpin it all – far from being contradictory, profit and purpose can be natural bedfellows. Alex and the team at RideTandem are making a real difference tackling an underestimated social challenge, and building a fantastic business in the process. We’re glad to be part of their journey with this investment.”