Loup: comfort of Uber, convenience of a bus

San Francisco startup Loup wants to merge the benefits of a private car service with the predictability of taking public transportation.

A private car experience for a few dollars more than what it takes to ride the bus.

San Francisco startup Loup wants to merge the benefits of ride sharing apps with the predictability and price of taking public transportation.

Abtin Rostamian
Loup Cofounder
What we basically do is we take high-quality vehicles, currently we’re using black cars and we put them along a route just like how a bus follows.

Unlike Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, Loup doesn’t offer point-to point transport. Its cars pick up passengers at designated stops along a set route.

You reserve a seat in a car through Loup’s mobile app. You choose the stop where you want to get picked up and dropped off. You can reserve a spot in the next available car or choose one arriving later.

The startup launched with one route from San Francisco's Cow Hollow neighborhood to downtown, similiar to the city’s 30X bus line. It’s only available during rush hour and rides range from two dollars and fifty cents to six dollars.

The company doesn’t let more than three people ride in a sedan, leveraging its algorithms to match passengers and drivers.

Jimmy Ku
Loup Cofounder
How we decide whether or not the vehicle is available for your particular ride as people are going around, as we have multiple vehicles with people with different routes, there’s a lot that goes into that specific algorithm.

Loup doesn’t own any of the cars or employ the drivers- it has contracts with private vendors to provide both. But like other ride-sharing companies, Loup’s success not only depends on getting the word out to potential customers, but also its ability to attract and retain drivers.

It’s currently giving drivers a guaranteed rate as the company grows its user base. Having just launched this week, it wouldn’t reveal how many people have signed up to use the service.

Loup hopes that as more people sign up for the service, drivers will end up making more money per hour than with other car services.

The startup has raised 1.5 million dollars, led by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams' new firm, Obvious Ventures.

In San Francisco, Melissa Aparicio, IDG News Service.