PoolUp Offers Affordable Transportation for Students

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Photo by Sammy Muñoz

Enya Bours

Contributing Writer

Since launching its private beta in March, PoolUp has received an abundance of positive user feedback. The team of 14 behind the app is optimistic about the possibility of an official release in the fall, and they have been working hard to take each user’s experience into consideration and implement their suggestions.

The college carpool app created for students by students has come a long way since the dawn of the idea back in 2018. In an interview with Michael Chong, the CEO of PoolUp, he revealed that about 150 people signed up for the beta and they have completed around 10 rides so far.

While the app is still in its early stages, Chong and the team are being very selective about their users. Rather than initiating a mass launch where they would receive an overwhelming amount of feedback, the team decided to keep their number of users low so that they can personalize and follow up on each experience while continuing to develop the app.

Currently, they are focused on the carpool experience and ensuring that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible. Passengers pay ahead, which makes drivers more likely to commit and show up, reducing the uncertainty that typically comes with rideshare through Facebook. Chong added that the beta users “loved the experience so much that they don’t want to go on Facebook ever again,” and that every time they travel, they ask to use PoolUp.

“Passengers pay ahead, which makes drivers more likely to commit and show up, reducing the uncertainty that typically comes with rideshare through Facebook.”

The team has faced its fair share of challenges along the way as a startup, but Chong noted that there is a lot more ahead of them given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on in-person learning. He explained that there is a lot to learn about their users and how to build community and that it was not something they learned in college. Despite this, he expressed that “it’s an amazing experience to have in our 20s, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

The team’s long-term goals are to be “every student’s go-to carpool app” and create a strong carpool network across universities in California. That way, transportation would be available for current students who just want an affordable and reliable way to go home during school breaks.