A teenager with a nose for business and luxury cars has brought his ridesharing startup, Tesloop, to Southern California’s crowded roadways.
For a nominal fee, customers ride in swanky electric Teslas while plugged into work, music or Instagram. A “pilot” navigates dedicated routes between Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego County and Palm Springs.
The cost? Almost too good to be true.
A route between L.A. and Orange County starts at $29. Seats from Orange County to San Diego? $39.
Haydn Sonnad was 16 when he conceived the idea for Tesloop two years ago. The teen graduated from Agoura High School in June.
“I had the idea back in May 2015. It was almost summer going into junior year. The idea was to lease out a Tesla car and drive people back and forth to Vegas on the weekends to make up for the lease payments,” he said.
So, how does a teenager start a ridesharing company with the likes of Uber and Lyft circling nearby? Sonnad got help from tech experts, including his father, Rahul Sonnad, who holds the title of Tesloop CEO, and company vice president Brian Skipworth.
“He was really skeptical at first, but after about a month, jumped on board and helped me develop a team,” Sonnad said of his father’s interest.
Sonnad’s father has a thing for startups.
The Harvard Business School grad founded his first company, The Platform in 2000. It offered an “industrial-strength online video management system” used by Verizon, Microsoft, Hulu, Qualcomm and Comcast. He also founded Geodelic, which created location-based content and commerce services used by Verizon, Universal Studios theme parks, and Korea Telecom. Sonnad also worked as an engineering manager at Adobe and at Microsoft.
Haydn Sonnad said driving in Southern California was a “really intensive permitting process,” which is why he started the service between California and Nevada. Now that he’s licensed for business locally, he’s focusing on Southern California.
He said he spent $7,500 to get the first Tesla, plus its monthly lease cost. After about a month in business, he got angel investors to boost the bottom line.
The company would not disclose how much money it raised from investors in 2015 and 2016 but said it raised seven figures in a seed round from Santa Monica-based Clearstone Ventures and San Francisco-based Inspiration Ventures. It has also raised “substantial amounts” from Las Vegas-based Trust Ventures.
Tesloop said it will operate at a “near break-even” level for the next few years.
Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle