RYD, city of Vancouver to present at Greater Portland Tech Challenge

RYD Vancouver aims to provide solution for employee parking downtown and more

Ryd car with passengers
RYD (Rethink Your Drive) is an electric vehicle shuttle service that aims to connect people and places in the downtown Vancouver area.

RYD (Rethink Your Drive) Vancouver and the city of Vancouver were recently selected to be one of this year’s participants in the Greater Portland Tech Challenge, put on each year by Greater Portland Inc and the Technology Association of Oregon.

According to the Greater Portland Tech Challenge website, www.greaterportland2020.com/techchallenge/: “The Greater Portland Tech Challenge is an opportunity for problem solvers from the private and public sector to explore interesting, confounding and challenging problems that need different perspectives. A morning of challenge pitches from agencies leads to capacity counter pitches from tech firms. An afternoon of one-on-one consults between agencies and tech firms leads to demo/pilot project partnerships.”

The Greater Portland Tech Challenge event pairs agencies, governments and problem-solving tech firms to explore technology solutions to regional and local challenges. This year, they’re interested in problems that explore the intersection of technology and equity, which is where RYD Vancouver comes in.

“We’re pleased to be selected as one of this year’s GPI Tech Challenge participants,” said Teresa Brum, Economic Development Division Manager for the city of Vancouver. “The city and RYD applied to the Greater Portland Tech Challenge because we were looking for a technology solution to the system for hailing the RYD shuttle.”

RYD is an electric vehicle shuttle service that aims to connect people and places in the downtown Vancouver area. The idea for RYD first emerged in September/October of 2017 when Casey Wyckoff, principal at LSW Architects, and his business partner were brainstorming ways that they could help ease the burden of their team members getting to the office every day.

“When we thought of (an electric shuttle service), the first thought was that it could help a number of businesses downtown,” Wyckoff said. “Then it spurred to that this could be a great way to connect people and places. We just love Vancouver and we felt it (RYD) could be this new, fresh, iconic thing that people grew to love.”

In February/March of 2018, Wyckoff said they were able to get a vehicle and start beta testing the idea and how it would work. This past August, they started doing some special events like shuttle service to and from the Vancouver Waterfront grand opening and other events like that. They then offered some commuter assistance throughout the fall, which Wyckoff said has been going great. And just recently, RYD has grown from one vehicle to three.

“We have a team developing our app and they’ll be working on it over the next two quarters, so by the end of June our app will be finished and fully live, so we’ll be able to offer a much larger range of services to the community,” Wyckoff said. “In the development of the app there are some really specific attributes of the development that would be beneficial that would need that kind of skill set (from tech companies at the Greater Portland Tech Challenge.”

As a participant in the tech challenge, a team made up of Wyckoff, Brum and two other team members will make a presentation about RYD to largely tech companies who are offering contributed assistance to a startup. Wyckoff said this is a great opportunity to accelerate some of the work they’re doing on the tech side such as the app.

The challenge question that RYD and the city of Vancouver asked in their application for the tech challenge was, “Could an app be developed that works for a wide range of downtown employees from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to hail this shuttle and make first/last mile connections available for more commuters?”

RYD Vancouver and the city of Vancouver were recently selected to be one of this year’s participants in the Greater Portland Tech Challenge.

“In response to the increased demand for downtown employee parking, the city has several existing programs that promote options such as carpooling, transit and biking,” Brum said. “Now, we’ve also started supporting the new RYD electric vehicle shuttle service as an option for downtown employees to get a ride to work from satellite parking. RYD is quickly emerging as one of the solutions to employee parking downtown, which is great for our downtown businesses.”

“We’re hoping that the tech challenge will give us some out-of-the-box thinking on how the city can better promote RYD and possibly even integrate it with other transportation alternatives,” Brum continued.

The RYD and city of Vancouver team will present their challenge to an audience of problem-solving technology firms on Feb. 27. Each tech firm then will pitch back their problem-solving capacity back to the audience of agencies/cities/organizations. The teams then cast their votes to indicate who they would like to follow up with in the afternoon breakout session of one-on-one consults.

Wyckoff said they next key offering that they intend to go live with is a subscription model where individuals downtown could sign up to pay a monthly fee and get access to RYD as an on-demand service throughout a downtown zone. He said he expects they will be able to offer this once the app is done, so probably by the end of June.

“As far as Vancouver is concerned, I hope that RYD is one of the unique things that Vancouver has pride about in terms of connecting people,” Wyckoff said. “It removes the headache, the buzz around town that parking is a disaster. Biggest picture is it will have an economic benefit for Vancouver and continue to draw great talent and people to our community. The big dream is that RYD in Vancouver is so loved and successful that really we’re asked to go into other communities and show them how to do it.”



Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.