Kiersten Harris grew up on the southside of Atlanta, and she’s dedicated most of her life to bettering the community.
Now, she’s taken her next step. Harris, a 22-year-old Black entrepreneur, is chief executive officer and co-founder of the South’s first female-friendly rideshare app, HERide.
“Our motto is ‘Choose to be unbothered,’” Harris said in an interview with Reckon. “We wanted to create a platform for women to feel safe and welcome.”
In addition to providing safe transportation for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community going from point A to point B, Harris wanted to create a platform that combats sex trafficking, stalking and domestic violence. The app operates like most ridesharing apps but with additional security features and more-thorough background checks. At publication, according to Harris, HERide has reached a five-figure user and driver acquisition total on the app although she declined to provide specific figures.
In December 2019, the ride-sharing service Uber reported that 3,045 sexual assaults occurred during Uber rides in the U.S. in 2018. Even Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West told the New York Times that the numbers were “jarring and hard to digest.” A victim of sexual assault herself, Harris said she wanted to create an app stocked with a web of resources, like a danger button feature, to better women on the go.
“Starting in an already established industry doesn’t mean you have to recreate the wheel,” Harris said. “We wanted to improve the rideshare system for women, so we looked for ways to do that.”
The owner vs the brand #ShopBlack pic.twitter.com/xQPVtD2YC4
— Ayesha Currency (@Kierstensharris) June 10, 2020
Harris is currently working with her business partner, co-founder and chief operating officer, Jillian Anderson, a 25-year-old computer science engineer, to make the app as safe and secure as possible for riders and drivers. Anderson formerly drove for Uber and wanted to draw on those experiences to create an even safer rideshare.
For added security, HERide employees manually perform all driver background checks. Uber uses an online portal called Checkr, which uses artificial intelligence and automation, for background checks, according to the company’s website.
HERide also caps the number of drivers at a lower number than other ridesharing apps to ensure that the team is well-aware of who is driving.
“Everything is based on our own experience,” Harris said. “We all know people who have been stalked, bothered or even almost kidnapped during a ride or while driving.”
HERide has launched in Atlanta and expanded to Little Rock, Ark. as a test market. From there, the company plans to launch in Dallas and across the South. (For a list of their cities, click here.)
Harris added that they hope to partner with organizations in their cities to provide safe, non-discriminatory rides.
“People see our message and they see themselves,” Harris said. “They are choosing us not only because we are a rideshare app, but because they see themselves and what they value in us.”