Group ride-share startup Fetii has been chosen to enter an exclusive club. The two-year old Austin, Texas-based company said Wednesday it’s been accepted into business accelerator Y Combinator’s summer “batch.” Acceptance brings with it $500,000 in cash and an intensive three-month mentoring program Fetii co-founder and CEO Matthew Iommi described to Forbes.com as “almost like a three-month boot camp.”
Iommi explains Y Combinator (YC) chooses only 1.5% of the approximately 10,000 companies that apply for inclusion into one of its two annual batches. He’s grateful Fetii beat those odds as the young company seeks to expand its service area and profits.
“It’s a real game changer to be announced as a YC company. It gives you a lot of legitimacy,” said Iommi in an interview. “Having that on your business resume is a huge thing that will not only help us attract talent, because a lot of people want to work for a YC company, but will also help us secure more financing and grow more quickly as we can leverage YC’s resources, YC’s network of portfolio companies that they have and provide transportation for YC companies across the world.”
Since 2005 Y Combinator has invested in more than 3,000 businesses worth over $400 billion combined, according to its website. Largest among those companies include Airbnb, DoorDash
Founded in August, 2020 Fetii is a ride sharing service that only serves groups using 15-seat vans. However, Fetii owns no vehicles. Rather, it is a technology platform. According to Iommi, 80% of its vehicle supply comes from Fetii passenger service providers, or PSP’s modeled after Amazon’s
The other 20% are owned by rental agencies with which Fetii has partnered. If an independent driver wants to drive for Fetii, they can have access to a rental agency van paying a monthly rental insurance fee.
In both cases, Fetii takes a percentage of the revenue.
Drivers manage their end, including navigation to and from destinations through the Fetii Driver app while passengers arrange for and pay for ride via the Fetii Ride app. Passengers scan a QR code with their smartphones as they board for access to a UPC check in where they can select how they want to split the fare among other riders on the trip.
Y Combinator partner Brad Flora said Fetii’s unique business and operating models made inviting the company into its fold basically a no-brainer, telling Forbes.com, “Fetii uses technology to take the friction out of booking travel for a group of people. The app makes it seamless for groups to get from point A to B together and handles the awkward task of paying for the ride. Funding this talented team of longtime friends who are already seeing early traction was an easy decision.”
After the three-month mentoring program, companies then participate in a demo day where they articulate their missions and business ideas with the hopes of securing additional investors, Iommi explained.
New money would certainly give Fetii fuel for its intended expansion plans. Now operating in Austin, College Station and Lubbock, Texas, Iommi says the goal is to expand to new markets. Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas are under consideration along with Y Combinator home base of San Francisco.
Iommi says he also intends to hire another 20 or so employees in the next few months primarily in sales, engineering and marketing. He won’t reveal publicly the company’s current headcount “for competitive reasons.”
What he is happy to share is Fetii’s growth trajectory noting to date company vans have made 49,300 trips, ferrying 467,100 passengers, traveling a total of 188,200 miles. Using Fetii’s passenger and trip data Iommi estimates use of its 15-passenger vans effectively removed 100,000 vehicles from the road—the approximate number of smaller vehicles it would have taken to transport the same number of people.
Indeed, reducing traffic congestion and emissions by transporting people in groups rather than individually is a key element of Fetii’s mission.
“We’ve got a great platform, great business model, great network of vehicles to really ensure when people come back to work we can really do the best we can do to de-congest these cities and to prevent this big societal plague that’s happening in these big urban cities in which congestion has gone to egregious levels, emissions are rising,” said Iommi. “We’re removing unnecessary vehicles off the road.”
Y Combinator’s summer batch program starts in June, but Iommi is looking forward to a much-longer term relationship with the accelerator as his ambitions for Fetii grow, declaring, “once you’re part of the YC family you’re a part of it.”