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Karan Prashanth, a graduate of the Waterloo Founder Institute, is the Founder of Port Transit, a point-to-point mobile app designed to transform regional transit by making it cheaper, easier, and faster to travel between cities. Since launching in Fall of 2018, Port has secured an investment from Extreme Venture Partners and rapidly grown its user base.

Many of life’s most cherished memories are tied to our experiences, and we love to attend events like festivals because we get to fill our entire day with those memory-making experiences together. However, between getting to the event venue, battling traffic, trying to find and pay for parking, and the eventual fight to escape from the parking lot alongside everyone else leaving the event all at once, sometimes dealing with the details of regional transportation can take away from the memorable experiences we want to form together. Fortunately for festival goers and event attendees, Port is solving these problems by tapping into the sharing economy to make event transit more functional as well as incredibly affordable.

Founded by then-21-year-old Karan Prashanth, Port has found its niche among the sharing economy by helping drivers fill their empty seat(s) on road trips, distance commutes, and en route to festivals and events. The company was founded on the idea of shared mobility, and the Founder is a recipient in a specialty visa program designed to attact top startup talent to Canada. According to the Port team,

Shared mobility is already here in the form of Uber - but it is unpopular for longer distance rides, i.e. trips between cities. It just costs too much because the driver is making this trip not on his or her own volition.

Of course, there are public transit options like trains or buses that run between cities, but each of those involve multiple stops, often detours, occasional transfers, not always desirable dropoff and pickup points, and can at times still be cost prohibitive.

Each year large Canadian cities like Montreal and Waterloo continue to see population growth. This in turn correlates with more vehicles creating more traffic congestion, where city-funded solutions are often burdened by aging infrastructure. Port is seeking to embrace the solutions already within commuters’ grasps--smartphones--and helping to alleviate the continuously growing environmental issues associated with simply getting to work.

Port is a solution that alleviates these transportation challenges by putting a new spin on intercity transit: connecting passengers with incentivized drivers, who are already both heading to the same location. And it all starts at only $10 per ride - cheaper than alternative regional transit options between Canadian cities, and enough to make it worthwhile for the driver to add an extra few minutes to their trip. The company also automatically caps how much a driver can earn each month, so that the service will always fall under the scope of personal transport sharing, and will not impact insurance coverage for Canadian drivers who use the platform.

At the core of Port is a mission to create a positive impact on the world.

If the philosophy [of shared mobility] can spread and become popular, the benefits are endless. Less people on the highway will reduce health issues associated with traffic, people will be more willing to travel through and work in the various edge cities that are struggling economically, and we will be a step closer in doing our part to mitigate some effects of climate change.

Port’s entry into the sharing economy comes at a time when more than one in three Canadian commuters are already using a form of sustainable travel options. According to census data, Canadian commuters today spent just under 30 minutes traveling to work each day, but this number continues to climb each year. Long commutes alone can impact more than just the environment, but also individual workers’ health, general wellbeing, and productivity.

Alternative regional transit simply makes increasing sense in our ever-connected social world. And Port offers its drivers the right kinds of capital incentive structures to encourage them to be more sustainable each and every time they get into the car to travel. With its goal of making a sustainable impact on regional transit, Port is driving in the right direction.

According to Founder Karan Prashanth,

It is a responsibility for us to be cautious with each unit of fuel we consume, and making point-to-point transit more persuasive will have direct impacts in fighting climate change, with a multiplier effect.
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Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $800M in funding, and building products people love across over 180 cities worldwide.

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