Planes, Trolleys and Automobiles

Three Central Florida companies are bringing tech innovations to the transportation sector that will make it easier for people to get to, and get around, destination cities like Orlando.

Orlando-based travel technology company Bacarai is partnering with airlines to automate their offline group sales process, while Ridesurf is taking ride sharing long-distance. And for local trips, Omnimodal’s Smart Mobility prediction engine is aggregating Big Data to help cities reduce traffic and cut commute time.

All are current or former participants in StarterStudio’s accelerator programs.

While air travelers have long turned to online marketplaces like Travelocity or Expedia to book their flights, tour operators, schools and sports teams booking group travel for more than 200 million people a year still spend hours on the phone reviewing options one airline at a time and comparing pricing.

“At Bacarai, we’re solving a $12 billion problem for the group air travel industry, where between 50% and 70% of all group contracts under the existing fragmented system are ultimately cancelled,” said co-founder Kenny Totten. “That’s because as customers shop, they hold inventory with each carrier, then cancel the space they don’t need days or months later. This causes inventory management headaches for the airlines.”

By adopting Bacarai’s group automation solution, airlines can automate their group sales life cycle, saving millions in the process while opening up new revenue streams.

Back on the ground, Breezy Baldwin and Eliecer Vera founded Ridesurf for people wanting to carpool for road trips of 50 miles or more. The app, just launched in July, is America’s answer to France’s BlaBlaCar, which has 80 million drivers and passengers in 22 countries, but no presence in the United States or Canada.

“Ridesurf is a safe and easy way for two or more people who are going the same direction to share a ride with one another for a driver-determined fee,” Baldwin said. “Ride sharing alleviates traffic congestion and is better for the environment.”

Ridesurf graduated from StarterStudio’s Ideation-Stage accelerator, which Baldwin said is one of the things that makes Central Florida great place for startups.

“We gained an incredible amount of knowledge of best practices when starting a business, from doing proper customer discovery, to business plan development, to pitch development and experience — not to mention making connections and friends in the startup space,” she said.

With customers like the I-RIDE and Sanford trolleys, the City of Orlando and the Florida Department of Transportation, the Omnimodal team led by co-founders David Thomas Moran and Nathan Selikoff is taking the guesswork out of getting around town.

Omnimodal’s Smart Mobility prediction engine generates high-quality, real-time predictions across all modes of transportation and integrates easily with different dashboard analytics platforms as well as existing, widely used commuter-facing navigation apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, Transit App, and Moovit.

“Optimizing high-quality, real-time predictions, we empower cities and commuters to make better use of their time and to make smarter, sustainable, data-driven decisions about their transportation and mobility needs,” said Moran, Omnimodal’s CEO. “And we’ve been really fortunate to have such incredible support from both the StarterStudio Seed Fund Accelerator and the City of Orlando to pilot our Smart Mobility tech right here in our own backyard.”