UST Alumnus and Student Startup Ryde.Safe, Enters Accelerator Phase
The idea for Ryde.Safe, a startup company created by a UST alumnus and a current student, would make roads safer through a smartphone app. Their inspiration began in a UST entrepreneurship class in spring 2019. After taking the idea to the premier McNair Pitch Competition and winning first place, Seth A. Romo ’13, MBA ’19, and Jose Mateo Ludena ‘21 took the first steps in making their business idea a reality.
"Originally, the idea of Ryde.Safe was to gamify driving safety by using smartphones to track and reward users for safer driving,” Romo said. “This idea pivoted from a consumer-based model to a business-to-business model when we realized there was a way to develop a competitive product that tracks fleets and their drivers' habits and has the potential to take on the fleet management market.”
For Ludena who has a minor in Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, working on the Ryde.Safe project was invigorating. “I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and have started several of my own businesses such as an online backpack store, a clothing brand and a YouTube fitness channel. I learned a lot from these experiences, and combined with my entrepreneurship class at UST, the timing was right to take an idea off the ground and make it happen,” he said.
Knowing the top quality of students at UST, Romo and Ludena searched for a way to have the mobile app designed and met self-taught software developer Armando Sanchez, BBA ‘21.
“Coming to the University of St. Thomas, I had the idea of eventually being able to combine my interests in coding and finance into a job, possibly building a startup,” Sanchez said. “Since I joined the Ryde.Safe team in 2019, I have not only improved as a developer but also experienced the process of starting a company. We took what originally was just an idea and built a product that aligned with our vision. I have confidence in the Ryde.Safe team, I am looking forward to seeing what else we can accomplish together.”
The three entrepreneurs became co-Founders and launched Ryde.Safe, LLC. Incorporated in 2020. They are on to something with their driving companion app which monitors and encourages safer driving.
Ryde.Safe Enters the Acceleration Phase of the Startup Process
After a year of development and presenting, Ryde.Safe is now in the acceleration phase of the startup process and is supported by Global Energy Mentors (GEM), an organization designed to guide startups on their way to pitch to investors. GEM is part of the University of St. Thomas’ ongoing activities to support and encourage Houston’s innovators, startups and entrepreneurs in the energy sector.
Additionally, Ryde.Safe has entered the MassChallenge Early Stage competition. Mass Challenge is an accelerator in Houston that helps entrepreneurs take an innovative, startup idea into an impactful business. The organization’s roundup event invited entrepreneurs to be part of this world-class global startup program with mentorship, a global peer network and $250,000 in deals and discounts and cash and prizes with no equity taken.