RideScout app changes Austin transportation


Mikhaela Locklear

RideScout creators Joseph Kopser, Kate Ronkainen and Ryan Black launched RideScout in the Apple App Store this February. The app offers transportation options, estimated arrival times and costs and allows user’s Facebook friends to offer rides. 

Amanda Voeller

Using public transportation efficiently can be tedious, but UT military science professor Joseph Kopser’s new app RideScout makes it easier to navigate Austin by combining all the public transit options into a simple interface.

RideScout presents ride options organized by arrival time and estimated cost, as well as linking to Facebook to allow people to offer friends rides based on location, according to RideScout employee Kate Ronkainen.

“The future we see is giving someone the tool in their hand to be able to make decisions to hopefully leave their car at home or keep it parked,” Kopser, RideScout’s CEO, said.

According to Kopser, this will allow people to avoid the high costs of fuel and parking as well as lessening carbon dioxide in the air and clearing up roads.

“When I moved here to Austin and saw UT Austin’s campus and the ecosystem for entrepreneurs and all the talents of graduate students here … I realized if I was ever going to make this idea [into an app], Austin was the place,” Kopser said.

Kopser pitched the app idea at a South By Southwest pitch contest in 2012 and won second place. Kopser began working on the app in 2012 with Kate Ronkainen and Ryan Black, both of whom graduated from UT in spring 2012.

Black said RideScout did well in different competitions in the fall, which gave them more confidence and market validation.

RideScout has been funded by employees’ friends and family as well as angel investors — people who aren’t professional investors but are willing to financially support an idea — and is working on online marketing and co-marketing with the car-sharing service Car2Go, according to Black. 

The group hired a development team in August and launched RideScout in the Apple App Store in February 2013.

“It’s a huge testament of the strength of the student body at Texas,” Kopser said. “It’s a huge testament to the ecosystem of Austin in general in terms of their ability to get technology off the ground.”

Austin has the highest smartphone-adoption rate per capita in the country, and although the app can be used by anyone, the target market is “millennials” — tech-savvy 18 to 34-year-olds, Black said.

Kopser said RideScout is currently optimized for Austin, and it plans to expand to Washington, D.C. next. The company also plans to broaden its app’s platform to Android this summer.

“We’re pretty excited about not only what it’ll do for Austin, but it’ll be another great success story for the university itself,” Kopser said.