The idea was simple: Allow drivers already going to the mountains to sell extra seats to their destination through an app.
Wanderlift was launched at the University of Denver in the winter of 2017 and marks our first venture into multi-sided networks. Cultivo Media’s founding team made up three of the six members of the Wanderlift.
In just 8 weeks, over 12,000 miles were shared on the platform, we represented the United States in the finals of the Global Grand Challenges Summit business model competition in DC, and attracted the attention of Zipcar, Vail Resorts and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX program for partnerships.
After succumbing to legal issues brought on by Lyft and the PUC, we moved on, having learned a great deal. So how did all of this happen and what did we learn?
When we launched, we saw Wanderlift as a way to get more students to the mountains on the weekend. After launching in Downtown Denver however, we began to get emails from municipalities interested in using the system for commuters, trips to the doctor and more.
With indication of product-market fit outside of students, we began considering it’s application for cities to solve the last mile problem, for residents in rural areas to connect to places of work or hospitals and as a potential benefit provided by employers. As we were preparing to grow into these new areas, legal action from Lyft forced us to close our doors. In short, as students we didn't have the money to fight it and decided it was on to the next one.
Cultivo’s founders coordinated design, growth, and political advisory efforts for Wanderlift. We identified possible business model shifts to allow the company to continue operating, worked to form public and private sector partnerships, and adjusted financial and business models to ready the company for fundraising.
Wanderlift was our first foray into agile business modeling and our experience has taught us how to quickly and effectively iterate both product and operations to find the most reliable path forward.
At Cultivo, experience in startups has taught us the importance of agility, and battling for survival requires just that.
We had to quickly learn how to navigate a messy regulatory field with a multitude of conflicting interests, competitive forces, and vague regulations. We did this by identifying and pursuing key partnerships to put business and political pressure where we needed to survive. This taught us a tactical outlook to business/ product development, identifying market factors as they shift constantly and adjusting strategy accordingly.
As a company that comes from the startup world, we know how to navigate unpredictable projects and find creative ways to push through challenges. When you work with Cultivo, you are arming your organization with the energy and agility of a startup combined with time tested business and consulting practices that drive real results.