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RideTandem raises £2.3m to tackle transport poverty

Image credit: Milos Muller via Shutterstock

RideTandem, the mobility startup tackling transport poverty in rural areas, has raised £2.3m as it looks to extend its reach beyond the UK.

Founded in 2019, RideTandem’s creation was inspired by difficulties faced by the team when trying to secure reliable transport outside of major cities.

The startup works with local taxi, minicab and coach companies to provide a commuter service for users that would otherwise be unable to work due to the cost or difficulty of getting from A to B.

“Even before the cost-of-living crisis hit, public transport outside of big cities was broken – expensive, unreliable, or simply not there for people who need it,” said RideTandem co-founder and CEO Alex Shapland-Howes.

“Almost 5,000 bus services – more than one in four – were axed between 2012 and 2022. Many that remain, especially outside cities and large towns, are under threat from the recent end of the Bus Recovery Grant.”

Shapland-Howes said that in many cases, people in rural areas are forced into car ownership, which is “increasingly prohibitively expensive”.

“That’s not right – it’s not good for individuals and their families, and their social mobility and mental health, or for communities more broadly, and it’s not good for the economy,” he said.

The app works by matching passengers with shared vehicles. It provides a payment option and integrates with local transport partners.

The latest funding round, which follows a £1.75m seed investment in May 2022, was led by Blackfinch Ventures.

“It’s rare that you come across a business that is generating positive economic, social, environmental impact on such an impressive scale at such an early stage,” said Reuben Wilcock, head of ventures at Blackfinch.

“That’s because to do that you need much more than a good idea and the best of intentions. You need a really solid commercial model to underpin it all – far from being contradictory, profit and purpose can be natural bedfellows.”

Other participants in the round included FirstMonday VC and Rainmaking Impact, as well as additional backers from crowdfunding platform Seedrs.

Existing investors 1818 Venture Capital, Ascension and Low Carbon Innovation Fund also participated.