Australian startup Jayride heads for the skies

Stoic VC

Australian startup Jayride is a global platform for comparing and booking airport transfers. It has a presence in more countries around the world than many top ASX performers and is thriving in a market worth billions. What’s Jayride’s next destination? Jayride CEO Rod Bishop shares his vision for the future and how the company has achieved success so far.
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1.   What inspired you to develop your idea?
As a young person I used to travel a lot. In 2011, you could pre-book your flights and accommodation online, but there was no platform solving demand for door-to-door travel to and from airports. We [Rod and co-founder Ross Lin] analysed the purchase journey and realised we could aggregate and distribute rides in way that was superior to the other big transport and travel platforms Google and TripAdvisor.
We then we brought in other teams to help including sales and this led to partnerships with multiple travel brands and since then we have kept growing.
Today Jayride enables travellers to book a wide range of services, from shared shuttles to luxury limousines, with more than 3,700 transport companies servicing the 1,600+ airports around the world that account for 95 per cent of the world’s airport trips, including the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

2.   How have your priorities changed since you first started?
Starting out, we thought about all kinds of traveller rides, from long distance buses and coaches to rental car relocations. This helped us distil what was most important to travellers. We concluded that it was door-to-door airport services. We believed it was better to be expert at one aspect of rides. That insight enabled us to scale internationally very rapidly. Today we serve travellers at airports that account for 95 per cent of the world’s airport trips.
As our airport solution matures, we’re now close to coming full circle and looking at adopting some non-airport rides again that will increase our value proposition to travellers and our total addressable market size.
3.   Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?
Coming from a marketing and sales background, I was a first-time technology company founder. My co-founder Ross is technical with e-commerce and spatial mapping-based experience.
“You don’t know what you don’t know when you’re starting out.”
You might be a subject matter expert in your niche area – ours is transport – but team leadership, company structuring, corporate finance, investment rounds and other related areas may not be within your skill set. Getting some baseline knowledge is important.
We really immersed ourselves in the startup ecosystem. We set up our office in Fishburners, Australia’s leading startup co-working space, where I am now a director. There was always someone in the room who knew the answer to the questions we were exploring.
We carry that forward to today, always surrounding ourselves with experts in all fields. It helps us to accelerate our growth.
4.   What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
We were a company of over 100 people before the pandemic and had to downsize to a team of 45 people to natigate the pandemic. Now we’re out the other side we are scaling up again for growth.
The switch to remote working was a big change for most companies. We made it a success by reference to our values like “be accountable to each other” and “share your wins”. Today, we’re location agnostic. We’ve achieved everything remotely – launching our product, contracting the best service providers and deploying these to our channel partners and travel brands.
5.   What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused?
“Focus is a good word. Success is about solving the right problem.”
Time is precious and you don’t want to waste time solving something unless it’s the most important thing.
The trick is to be very, very analytical. Test when uncertain, but in general, make decisions based on numbers. Define your objectives in terms of certain measures and understand all problems against this as a common frame of reference, create a lean business case on what’s likely to move the needle – then that’s the place to focus.
6.   What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become an entrepreneur?
Just do it. A lot of people think it’s impossible or too hard. They let the fact they don’t know all the answers hold them back. The way to get the answers is to start.
7.   How did you establish your culture?
“Turning our objectives and value statements into a culture is part of everything we do.”
We defined our values and tie everything back to them including our quarterly plans, strategies and onboarding.
We build tools and frameworks to ensure all our teams have the available data and understand how to transform it into business intelligence. Everybody has the same power to do the same sort of interrogation of problems and solutions.
It’s this kind of thing that is leading our pandemic recovery. There’s borders opening and closing and different immigration policies around the world – it’s hard to keep track of, and so instead we look at data in real-time and observe it to know where the volume is appearing.
Then we pivot our business to go after those locations.
8.    How do you define success?
We look at the real-world impact of the Jayride platform. We define success in terms of growth in the number of passenger trips booked. As a growth company, we look at growing that number of passenger trips booked aggressively every month.
9.   What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
We’re at an early stage in a long-term growth trajectory and we’re building something that’s never been built before, which is exciting. You’ve got to love that journey!
10. What are you working on now?
“Now that borders are relaxing around the world, we’ve got huge opportunities.”
Travellers are in a new environment and their behaviours have changed. They’re no longer comfortable just turning up and winging it. They don’t want to hop on the tube, stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers in taxi ranks, or turn up and potentially fail to get a rental car at the last minute.
Travellers want confidence, safety and certainty. This is leading more people to book door-to-door, fixed price guaranteed ride experiences. We’re capturing that demand and working with the biggest travel brands on earth, to help them bring these offers to market.
11. How do you see your company evolving over the next 10 years?
I see Jayride will come the travellers’ trusted ride brand – the brand that travellers will prefer to use for all their rides around the world.