Hytch Awarded “Emerging Company of the Year” by Nashville Technology Council

Nashville-based smartphone app incentivizes ridesharing through rewards platform.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 29, 2018)- The Nashville Technology Council (NTC) recognized Hytch, LLC, as the “Emerging Company of the Year 2018” at the 9th Annual NTC Awards Ceremony on Thursday, January 25th. Nashville-based technology company Hytch, LLC, presents a groundbreaking free iOS and Android application, called Hytch Rewards, engineered to incentivize positive transit behavior, reduce fuel emissions and alleviate traffic through sponsored cash rewards. Shared rides are tracked, verified and rewarded through first-of-its-kind synchronized GPS tracking technology.

The NTC Awards are dedicated to connecting, uniting, developing and promoting Middle Tennessee’s rich community of developers and technology entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and institutions. This year brought in over 300 nominations in 14 categories.

“We congratulate Hytch Rewards for winning the Emerging Company of the Year award.” says Brian Moyer, President and CEO of the NTC. “They are a great example of Nashville’s Creative Tech ecosystem.  Traffic congestion is one of the biggest challenges our region faces.  Hytch Rewards uses technology in a very creative and innovative way to help alleviate that congestion. We salute their ingenuity.”

“We are honored to receive this award and play our part in recognizing technology as a solution to Nashville’s traffic congestion,” says Mark Cleveland, co-founder and CEO of Hytch, LLC. “With the touch of a smartphone, commuters can now be a part of the traffic solution. We are only at the beginning of creating new ways to utilize technology for faster and safer commutes."

Hytch Rewards is funded in part by a grant through the State of Tennessee and reward partners, including Nissan, Sprint, H.G. Hill Realty Company, and Franklin Synergy Bank, who have layered their geo-defined cash rewards to further incentivize ridesharing in high congestion regions.

“We believe that incentivizing positive and sustainable transit behavior will help to alleviate traffic and parking congestion, improve air quality, and make transportation a more enjoyable social experience in all its forms,” says Cleveland. “The Hytch Rewards platform brings good old fashioned carpooling into the digital age by rewarding ridesharing behavior.”

Hytch Rewards will be available in Apple and Google Play app stores by February 9th, 2018.

About Hytch Rewards:
Hytch Rewards is an app for iOS and Android that validates, tracks and rewards ridesharing behavior using groundbreaking technology developed in Nashville, TN. Hytch Rewards is funded in part by a grant through the State of Tennessee and employer partners like Onin Staffing and Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. Hytch Rewards enables individuals to earn cash rewards for every shared mile through the app, including carpooling, ride-hailing service, and public transit. To learn more, visit HytchRewards.com.

About the Nashville Technology Council:
Nashville Technology Council began in 1999 when a group of business leaders and legal minds came together to address the need in Nashville for better paying jobs and improved capital investment in technology startups. From its inception, the vision for the NTC was to be a catalyst for growth and influence in Middle Tennessee's tech industry. Today, the NTC has 400 company members with a vision of establishing Nashville as the nation’s Creative Tech Destination.  The NTC Award planning committee is comprised of members of the Nashville Technology Council community that generously volunteer their time. A member of the NTC Awards planning committee oversees the nominee selection process, coordinating over 70 judges from across Middle TN, thereby keeping the NTC staff out of the process. To learn more, visit TechnologyCouncil.com.



Rideshare App Provides Rewards, Helps Overcome Transportation Barrier

(Middle Tenn.) — Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has launched a partnership with Hytch, a Nashville-based tech company that tracks and rewards shared rides, to help its employees and clients overcome lack of transportation as a barrier to employment.

Goodwill, a non-profit organization whose mission is changing lives through education, training and employment, will be the first midstate employer to offer its team members direct incentives to carpool using the Hytch smartphone application. Starting in late September, Goodwill employees and Goodwill Career Solutions clients who use the Hytch app, which helps drivers and riders track their daily commute to work, will receive rewards for every mile they travel.

“For many of the individuals Goodwill helps, finding an affordable ride to and from work can be a daily struggle,” said Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee CEO Matthew Bourlakas. “Goodwill’s mission is to help people overcome barriers to employment, and we believe the Hytch app — along with the cash incentives to use it — will make ridesharing a more simple and attractive solution.

“Carpooling helps to reduce traffic on our roads and benefits the environment,” he added. “It’s time we try a new approach that brings people together and leverages technology to build habits that benefit people and the planet.”

Whether they drive or ride along, Goodwill employees or clients and all other users of the Hytch app who carpool to work will be rewarded up to 5 cents per mile during the program’s launch period.

Hytch users are rewarded through a virtual credit card that can be used like cash, or they can arrange to have the funds they earn moved automatically into their bank account. Payouts can be received upon demand by participants after certain mileage thresholds are reached.

Goodwill is no stranger to the mobility problems faced by an entry-level workforce. For the last several years, Goodwill’s Wheels-to-Work program has provided donated vehicles for employees who lack transportation to work. But, every day, thousands of people in Middle Tennessee struggle to find rides to and from work or spend too much money on gas and too much time in traffic.

“Nashville isn’t the only community choking on car exhaust and congestion,” said Mark A. Cleveland, CEO and co-founder of Hytch. “We have a car-centric culture, a car-centric infrastructure and a great opportunity to put two or more people in these cars. Goodwill employees will be the first to experience a revolution in the way leaders view ridesharing incentives as a cost-correct solution to congestion problems.”

About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.:

For 60 years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items.  Goodwill's vision is that all people will have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential through the power of work. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained online at www.giveit2goodwill.org or by calling 1-800-545-9231.

About Hytch LLC:

Based in Nashville, Tenn., Hytch developed the first smartphone application created to defend clean air and defeat traffic with technology and cash incentives. Winner of the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (“MPO”) INNOVATION Award for 2016 and a finalist for the Nashville Technology Council “Innovator of the Year” Award, Hytch offers a free, easy platform for both iOS and Android devices to track and reward two or more people sharing rides in any vehicle. Cities, communities and companies sponsor cash incentives, connecting their brands to geo-defined consumer activity as participants generate emissions credits and earn rewards through Hytch. Passengers earn credit too and can also use the app to pass points over to the driver and contribute to the cost of gas on a voluntary basis.  Hytch is a project funded in part by a grant from the State of Tennessee and its co-founders are Mark Cleveland and Robert Hartline.  For more information about ridesharing rewards visit www.hytch.me and follow @HytchMe (#HytchMe).

Nashville Businesses Get Creative to Solve Parking Crunch

Hytch prides itself on innovation and exploring new ways to tackling the infrastructural pains our region's growth is creating. Take a look at how Hytch and our CEO, Mark Cleveland, is spearheading the movement of Nashvillian's into the share-economy. 

As Nashville’s growth outpaces infrastructure, local businesses are experimenting with new methods to confront parking demand and congestion problems. While city and state leaders have been grappling with solutions for several years, the urgency felt by business executives has spurred innovation, from flexible hours to blueprints that include self-driving cars.

Mark Cleveland has launched a carpooling app in Nashville, Hytch, which has gained 670 users in the past four months. The focus is on coordinating rides with other locals, but relying on autonomous vehicles to provide the rides is part of Cleveland’s long-term plans.

Local entrepreneur Mark Cleveland launches carpooling app Hytch

In addition to Hytch, Mark is also planning a 12-story hotel, called Stanza Hotel, for a triangle plot on Lafayette and Ash streets. On-site parking is not part of his vision.

“Ultimately it’s designed to serve the Uber, Lyft, self-driving car community looking for an affordable stay in downtown Nashville,” Cleveland said. “I’m expecting them to fly into the airport and Uber to my hotel and walk around downtown and Uber and Lyft.”

He will be able to pass on the savings in construction costs to consumers, he says.

For those guests who bring a car, Cleveland plans to shuttle them from a nearby parking lot to the hotel in autonomous vehicles, giving them a unique opportunity to experience self-driving cars as he avoids the need for parking on the small site.

Cleveland plans to break ground later this year, and his parking plan, or lack thereof, has been approved by the downtown design review committee. With the advancement of autonomous vehicles, it’s possible the self-driving car component will be part of the 2018 opening, he said.

It's this type of innovative initiative that will allow Nashville to continue sustainable growth and potentially, if adopted on a large-scale, alleviate the frustrations our lack of infrastructure creates. To join the movement download Hytch on iOS or Android. Also, connect with us at info@hytch.me to hear more about how you can be involved.

Sharing to Help Solve the Snarls of Nashville Traffic

Three questions with Mark Cleveland about his push to build carpooling app Hytch

AUTHORS Geert De Lombaerde

Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have thoroughly disrupted the short-distance travel market but aren’t suited to the everyday travels of suburban commuters. Enter local entrepreneur Mark Cleveland, who has been pitching his free Hytch carpool networking app to local municipalities and other transit stakeholders. Here, Cleveland lays out his vision.

How would you sum up the idea behind Hytch?

Every great story has a villain, a hero and a happy ending. Right now for Nashville, traffic is the villain. But with Hytch, Nashville can take a page from the sharing economy playbook to help solve the snarls of traffic — right now, before spending the billions of tax dollars and thousands of days that long-term mass transit solutions require. If every driver commuting to Nashville will use it, even occasionally, we will take 100, then 1,000, then maybe tens of thousands of cars off the road in no time.

What Air BnB did to match a house guest with that extra room in your home, Hytch does for empty seats in your car. Sharing the cost of a ride turns that unused asset into a money maker. Imagine 50 to 75 people in your neighborhood who are on your route to work or just a stone’s throw off your route for pickup. If you had 75 options available for sharing a ride, would you take advantage once in a while? Once a week?

What’s a reasonable first-year expectation for adoption?

I believe in the people of Nashville to come together to solve the problem of traffic so my expectations for Hytch’s first year are sky high — say 10 percent of Nashville’s daily commuters.

Do some math with me: Research shows that taking 1,500 cars off an interstate is equivalent to adding a new lane and increasing travel efficiency by 10 percent for everyone. Today, on Interstate 24 alone, about 21,000 cars per day travel to Nashville from Clarksville, about 38,000 to Nashville from Murfreesboro. Take a mere 5 percent of those cars off the road and we’ve cleared two lanes at peak hours.

In terms of what will get people to sign up and share their cars, is it a question of karma or incentives?

Both, actually. Hytch is not a ride-for-hire approach, although you can be paid up to the mileage reimbursement rate of 54 cents per mile. I think of it as paying people back their time, their safety and their convenience. Big employers and small companies have a stake in promoting this solution, too. People fight traffic by quitting their jobs or moving to avoid long, frustrating commutes. Happier commuters make for a happier workplace.

How Hytch Is Making Carpooling Awesome

There was a time when coworkers and neighbors would come together and share a commute in order to save on time and gas. We hear stories of tight knit communities and friendships that have lasted for decades as a result of carpooling relationships from a different time.

Then, there was a change. People became obsessed with owning their own cars. Car ownership became a token of independence, a milestone for teenagers coming of age, and a way to establish social status. This was all great before the roads became so congested that a traffic junky might see a cyclist breeze right by their 470 horse power Jaguar during the 8:00 rush.

That's where Hytch comes in. Our roads are congested, our environment is suffering, our time is wasting, and our wallets are shrinking. Hytch is bringing carpooling back and it's going to be revolutionary. With Hytch, users can meet and interact with neighbors or colleagues who go the same way every day. They can ride together and share the cost at 54 cents / mile or less. 

But, how does it work?

Users will download the app and fill out their profile. They type in the name of a contact on their phone or someone's number and invite them to Hytch a ride with you. The person who initiated the hytch identifies who the driver is (them, the invitee, public transportation). The invitee will receive a text message where they can click a link to accept and auto start the ride. From here the app runs in the background on the phone while you both start earning money while Hytching.

Download Hytch today in the Apple or Google store to become a beta tester. The complete version will be launched this Fall.

Self Driving Car Law Passes in Tennessee

The below content is taken from WilliamsonSournce.com

The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a bill about the legality of cars that drive on roads without the help of a driver.

The bill makes self-driving cars a viable option on Tennessee roads. The new law states that no local government in the state can ban the use of autonomous cars in their municipality. The law to make autonomous cars legal in Tennessee was signed by Governor Haslam on April 24.

The law says that governments in Tennessee cannot prohibit a vehicle solely on the basis of the presence of self-driving technology as long as the vehicle is otherwise in line with safety regulations. Also, autonomous technology is defined as technology  “that has the capability to drive [a] motor vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator.”

The topic has been widely discussed in legislation and tech media for the past couple of years. Nevada passed a law in 2011 to make the self-driving cars legal. Florida passed legislation to allow the operator of a self-driving car to text while the vehicle has control. Other states that have passed laws to allow the use of self-driving cars are California and Michigan, and a number of others have pending legislation on the matter.

Companies such as Google, Tesla, Audi, Nissan and a number of other auto/tech companies have built self-driving models and have plans to release them on the market in the next five years. There is even a German company, Daimler, planning a self-driving 18 wheeler, the Freightliner Inspiration.

To be able to drive automatically, a car needs cameras and sensors that tell it when there’s an approaching curve, pedestrian, other car cutting into your lane, etc. These sensors are placed on the front, back and sides of the vehicle, as well as cameras on the top.

As for the interior, it is up to the imagination of the automaker, as long as safety standards are still in place. Some models have front seats that swivel so that everyone in the car can face each other, and Mercedes-Benz has a model with no windows for complete privacy while the car drives itself.

As it stands, most of the cars will be considered safe in rural areas and on interstates and highways, but not in dense urban areas where there are many more variables.

The reality of self-driving cars on the road is fast approaching. They may not take to the sky as Back to the Future predicted, but the automobile in 2015 is certainly approaching the speed it will take to take us to the future of the automobile industry.