Tripid versus carmageddon

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PAIN makes you stronger. It is my firm belief that the next major tech/app innovation will be coming from emerging markets like India and, of course, the Philippines because of all of our pain. Rich countries have got it easy; the government and the economy provide almost everything with minimal pain. In the Philippines we’ve got pain coming out of our kazoo. I think that’s a good thing. Pain, hopefully, leads to solutions. And solutions lead to innovations.

Enter carmageddon and its potential app nemesis Tripid. If you haven’t heard about it yet, carmageddon is here for the next four years because of massive infrastructure projects all over Metro Manila.

I was able to ambush Michael Ngo Dee, founder of Tripid, in a recent Kickstart event, and ask him about what he has been up to.

According to him, there are over 12 million people living in Metro Manila and during a workday another four million to six million more travel from outlying areas. That’s a potential 18 million commuters! My solution is a Vespa. His solution is sharing.


So what exactly is Tripid? At its core, it’s a carpooling/ride-sharing platform that uses a website (http://www.tripid.ph/) and an app, available on both iOS and Android, to match riders with drivers.

Dee’s epiphany came from seeing numerous cars on the road with just one person in each of them. They were all basically wasting space and causing traffic, a zero-sum game. He thought; “I’m sure at least one of these guys is going my way.” The question in his mind was how to create a business model that was sustainable and could solve the problem. The answer, Tripid.

How does it work? Dee and his team have created a system where passengers buy credit, which can then be used to incentivize drivers. The other benefit is that there is now a digital trail that can validate the identity of both passenger and driver, ensuring their safety. If you want to be altruistic, you can even offer rides for free.

Tripid is a pioneer in the Philippines, but recently big names like Uber are now available. So what’s the difference? In essence they offer similar services, the key difference being their intentions. According to Dee, Uber wants to be the world’s private driver while Tripid wants to take cars off the road.

What’s up with Tripid and the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB)?

There are a lot of laws that regulate public transportation. The LTFRB’s mandate is to enforce those laws to ensure the safety of the commuting public. It regulates everything from buses to taxis. So, does an app fall under the LTFRB’s jurisdiction? Honestly, I have no idea, but after a lengthy discussion with my legal counsel, a.k.a. my lawyer sister, she concluded that; Wouldn’t it be great if people and institutions could just get along without making lawyers rich and taking up the bandwidth of the Supreme Court?

It’s my hope that innovators and social painkillers like Dee are allowed to continue making awesome solutions that improve people’s lives.

For comments e-mail the author at ibbara@gmail.com.

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