Without Uber or Lyft at SXSW, Fasten Says Austin-Based Users Have Jumped 250%

CEO Kirill Evdakov loves the returns on his local campaign

The app is having a good weekend in Central Texas.
Photo Illustration. Source: Getty Images

With people arriving in Austin over the last few days for South by Southwest, which kicked off Friday, the grand share of out-of-towners landing in the local airport were likely Googling, “rideshare app that works in Austin, Texas.” By that time, they had probably read that Uber and Lyft were no longer providing service in the Lone Star State’s capitol city after the municipality last summer requested that all drivers be fingerprinted as a passenger-safety precaution.

The search results would contain articles that would primarily point them to Fasten, a Boston-based startup that launched in 2015 and offers drivers a pretty good deal—they pay Fasten $1 per ride completed and get to keep the rest of the fares outside of a small credit-card fee. Uber, on the other hand, keeps as much as 25 percent of the cash every time.

We just exchanged emails with Kirill Evdakov, co-founder and CEO of Fasten, who said “we have seen a 250 percent increase in daily new users (people who completed their 1st ride) during the first day of SXSW comparing to the previous Friday. [Eighty percent-plus] of [the] people who completed their first ride today already completed their second so people are happy with the service.”

His app is the official rideshare company for SXSW, a paid partnership with the festival that Lyft took advantage of two years ago. Fasten is also appearing in local ads, such as radio, as part of the campaign.

Per Evdakov, the cost-effectiveness of the initiative has played out this way so far: “We need only 3.2 rides to recoup the CAC (cost to acquire a customer) and are projecting to return the acquisition expenses of at least 95 percent of riders this week.”

While he wouldn’t divulge raw download numbers, his app, which is available only in Boston and Austin at the moment, seems to have been put on the map, so to speak, here in Central Texas. Fasten is expected to roll out to new markets in 2017, and it may be able to take away users from Uber, which has suffered one PR setback after another in recent weeks.

Other Austin-based rideshare apps that have pounced on chance to fill the void left by Uber and Lyft’s departures include Fare and Ride Austin. Reasonably speaking, their features are comparable to the competition.