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SplitMyTaxi aims to enable cab-sharing with an app, starting at Boston University

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 5, 2013 09:03 AM

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A startup called SplitMyTaxi has a plan to cut the cost of hailing a cab: its mobile app will match you with other riders traveling to the same destination.

It's a great idea: save money, and help curb pollution by making more efficient use of a city's taxi fleet. But obviously, SplitMyTaxi will need a critical mass of users to make the system work. So they're initially promoting the app just to Boston University students. Split went live on the campus earlier this month. Posters have been showing up around the campus, and fraternity pledges have been wearing t-shirts promoting the new service.

Founders Adam Eagle, a freshman at MIT, and David Zadok, a recent Brandeis MBA recipient, met at the StartLabs space at MIT. Eagle says they started building the web app in mid-December.

You'll need a .edu e-mail address to sign up at this point. But when you input your point of departure and your destination, along with the time you plan to travel, Split tries to match you with others going that way. Right now, the app doesn't get involved in hailing a cab or handling payment, but Eagle says that eventually, once you are matched with a fellow rider, Split may take a referral fee for passing your ride request along to a taxi company. The app is available for iOS and Android.

So far, the team has raised $12,500 from Rough Draft Ventures and Shri Ganeshram of FlightCar, another sharing-oriented startup I've written about recently.

A Harvard Business School student tried to launch a similar app in 2010, GobiCab, and while the website and app are still available, it didn't seem to take off. Founder Aleem Mawani is now onto other projects.

"Gobicab didn't have any traction because it didn't market to a group like college students or club-goers," Eagle says. "We created [our] app with college students in mind, but we are planning to expand outward after we get their support."

I imagine this could get some nice critical mass when spring break begins this Friday, and the entire BU student body heads for South Station or Logan. Let me know if you give it a try...

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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