Three years after Cody Ruberto founded the rideshare service Uride, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people socialize, work, and shop. Ruberto and his team had already been working on a new branch for the business, an app that would allow users to shop from local stores and get same-day delivery.
“We were working on that for a couple of months before the pandemic and expecting to launch some time in July. Then all of this happened and we just scrambled to get it up and running. We just went for it,” says Ruberto. He is also a professional soccer player in the UK, and when the league suspended the season, he flew back home to Thunder Bay the next day to focus on Uride.
Uride Services currently offers grocery, alcohol and takeout delivery, and also partners with several local businesses such as Ungalli and Pet-Tastic to deliver various products to customers. Users are also able to book services such as lawn care and hair cuts through the app.
“We’ve been working with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the city to make sure we’re following all protocols,” Ruberto explains. The service could be beneficial for clients who are concerned about going to a hair salon, or a family who wants to get everyone’s hair done at the same time.
Uride Services is open to working with salons as well as individual hairdressers. “One problem in the hair industry now is, they have limited capacity. [They can only fill] half the seats that they had before. So some salons have people work on alternating days. This will give them an opportunity to get their staff out,” Ruberto explains.
The company is exploring other services that people might need, such as tutoring, house cleaning, and snow removal in the winter. “We can get people their time back,” Ruberto says. “You can order all these services and organize your life through one app, one platform, and have more time for family and friends, more time to work on whatever you’re passionate about.”
All services through Uride and Uride Services are cashless, making the experience seamless for both clients and service providers.
Uride’s long-term vision is to build a single, “super app” that would simplify tasks for users. Currently, the ridesharing service Uride and Uride Services are two separate apps, but the two will eventually be combined, says the CEO.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he says. His team has been busy throughout the pandemic, working from home to enrol more businesses and services on the platform. Currently, the company operates in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Winnipeg is their largest market, and Moose Jaw, SK is the smallest community they operate in.
Bigger companies such as Uber and Lyft have been slow coming to smaller cities like Thunder Bay. That’s where Ruberto saw an opportunity, not only to start a successful business, but also provide solutions for people.
“Small market communities were left behind. I’m from Thunder Bay, I grew up here, my friends and family are here, I really care about this city. What we learned in Thunder Bay is, you actually can make a difference and solve real life problems if you have a great team,” he says. “Thunder Bay is our testing ground. Then we take that and replicate that in communities across Canada.”