Ride Austin founder speaks on startups at TEXTalks event

Will Clark

Ride Austin founder Andy Tryba spoke at a TEXTalks event where he discussed the culture, economics and obstacles of a startup in the ride-hailing industry in Austin, Tuesday evening at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. 

Brett Chikowski, a second-year MBA student and president of TEXTalks, an organization that features a podcast and speaker series focused on entrepreneurship for the Austin community, moderated the conversation with Tryba. 

Since the failure of Proposition 1 in May 2016, which forced drivers with ride-hailing apps to go through fingerprint-based background checks, Uber and Lyft stopped their services in Austin. 

After the vote, Tryba and his co-founder, Austin billionaire Joe Liemandt, decided to take advantage of the void left by the companies, working quickly to set up the new platform.

“There is basically a factory that was left here,” Tryba noted. “We basically stayed up all night for four weeks to make it happen.” 

Xavier Autrey, a second-year MBA student and TEXTalks vice president of talent, said what Ride Austin is doing is very important for how people move in cities. 

“Ride Austin is Austin’s ride-sharing solution by Austinites,” Autrey said. “I liked Ride Austin in the beginning because it is a community of people from Austin, from the tech industry and their business model is unique because it is a nonprofit.”

Tryba encourages an entrepreneurial spirit in business despite the risks.

“There’s this belief that you have all this crazy momentum all the time, and it’s this rocket ship on the way up,” Tryba said. “It’s very rarely the case. My good friend [Joe Liemandt] talks about entrepreneurship and how you go through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in literally 2.3 seconds.”

Hector Torres, the CEO and founder of Austin startup ULA Health, attended the talk and hopes to partner with the company.

“Transportation is a huge issue,” Torres said, “Not only in healthcare, but in a variety of other industries, relative to the socioeconomically disadvantaged.”

Tryba said it will take about a year before Uber comes back to Austin.

“I am a believer that they are coming back,” Tryba said. “So we have to have this awesome service. Austin will root for the Austin thing as long as it doesn’t suck.” 

Tryba said the competition is an uphill battle because Uber dominates 85 percent of the ride-hailing market.

“Our plan is to grow like crazy and offer a great service and bring in as much of Austin as possible, and then we’ll see,” Tryba said. “But it’s still like David versus Goliath.”