San Francisco startup Wingz, the latest in a lineup of venture-backed ride-sharing apps, has raised $2 million in an equity seed round for a mobile app that lets travelers book prescheduled rides to and from the airport.
Binux Capital, Blue Angel Ventures and Florence Venture Partners led the company’s funding round, joined by Ocotea Holdings, Big Bloom Investments, Olive Tree, and angel investor Larry Marcus.
When it comes to dollars and downloads, Wingz, which is incorporated as Tickengo Inc., faces competition from a huge number of apps that let riders either hail or book a car to get to the airport. They include entrenched brands such as Uber Technologies, Lyft and China’s Didi Dache-Kuaidi Dache, and challengers like Sidecar, Via, Tripda and Shuddl.
The startup also wants to win over customers who might otherwise use traditional transit options, like limos, shuttles, public transportation or even a ride from a loved .
Wingz co-founder and Chief Executive Geoff Mathieux, sees his company’s approach as complementary to but distinct from these options, he says, because it is relatively inexpensive, stress free and allows for booking in advance.
“Some people don’t want to leave an important detail, like how they’re getting to the airport to the last minute,” investor Mr. Marcus said.
Also, Wingz drivers aren’t allowed to cancel last-minute once they have picked up a fare from dispatch, according to Jack Russo, founding partner of Florence Venture Partners,
The startup resembles the ride-sharing competition in one regard–Wingz doesn’t employ drivers full-time or own vehicles. It operates a marketplace that connects passengers to drivers, instead.
Co-founder and head of operations at Wingz, Christof Baumbach, says many drivers for Uber and Lyft are starting to use the app to book some portion of their work in advance. They also like the assurance that Wingz passengers are airport bound, not wild partygoers heading home so drunk they may get sick or out of control in the car, he said.
The average airport ride costs about $40 on Wingz, and drivers take home 85% of each fare. The company is operating at 15 airports in three states, and plans to expand to at least 40 more in the U.S. in the next year, executives said.
The marketplace now has 260 authorized drivers in circulation with another 9,600 drivers waiting to be reviewed, the company said. Wingz requires all its drivers to go through a background check, a review of their driving records, and a vehicle inspection at an authorized auto shop.
On the passenger side, Wingz has amassed 10,000 monthly active users in part by connecting its app with other travel-planning programs like Concur and TripIt.
Mr. Marcus, who was also the first investor in music service Pandora, says he expects the company to use its capital to support “classic marketing and expansion.” Wingz should be able to help users book a ride on either side of their trip he said.