Q&A: Ridesharing in Bowling Green revamped by ZiggyZooms


Ellie Evans, Reporter

A new student-run business, ZiggyZooms, is creating safer rideshare opportunities for students and community members. ZiggyZooms began offering its services in January as part of an effort to eradicate drunk driving in Bowling Green and has seen substantial growth since then. 

Cameron Parke, a senior at Bowling Green State University and CEO of ZiggyZooms, said the service aims to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the roads each weekend by offering affordable, reliable designated drivers to those who need them.

What is ZiggyZooms? 

“ZiggyZooms is a rideshare company here in Bowling Green. It was sparked and founded on the interest of fulfilling that need, because prior to COVID-19, we had some services already in existence fulfilling that need. Ever since COVID-19 happened, it seems like it squashed the market. We stepped into the market, also noticing a really, really incredible need to get drunk drivers off of the road. Every time you go past the BGPD, the number is consistently climbing. Our effort is really centralized around making this town a safer place and providing the students who want to partake in those activities with an easy, affordable and reliable means of getting to and from anywhere in BG. We operate from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday to Saturday every week.” 

How did ZiggyZooms get started?

“When it comes to the creation of ZiggyZooms, it was very abrupt, very fast growth. We have seen, on average, a 17% demand increase day over day. With that, we have to have that supply, which there wasn’t enough of at first. We had to increase our hiring efforts and get the mission out there and have people really connect with it. We believe in taking drunk drivers off the road, and that’s what makes my team super passionate about executing all of the objectives that we have to do every night.”

Who is involved and can get involved?

“We are by students, for students. With this, there is no one that knows our target market better than us students. We leverage that a ton, and people really trust that idea and are very receptive to the idea of calling ZiggyZooms for that reason. There are many accounts of individuals saying they don’t want to use other services because a lot of the drivers are strangers. With an established company that has this framework set up, it garners mutual trust. People really, really respect that. There are two other owners that are very close friends of mine and not only are they drivers, but they are BG community members. However, they believe in this, because they are also affected by the drunk driving that occurs within our city’s limits. The one owner came up with the idea to make some extra money and asked me if this would be a good business model. With that, we went out, tested the waters and found that this was a need for students. We banded together, made the company and everyone that has been hired since has been a student. We now have 17 associates who are very driven. They are ready to take on this effort. This isn’t to say we are against non-student drivers. If someone is affected and is within the community, by all means. We don’t want to exclude anyone, but at the same time, about 90% of our workforce are students. It’s a very niche market for us, and we really want to stay true to that and give our students the opportunity first.”

I know you have a specific area in which you typically operate. Do you ever see ZiggyZooms operating on a greater scale?

“As of right now, we don’t have the workforce to expand too far out. However, we actually did operate outside of our limits for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s going to bring some attention to our town. As far as pricing goes within our area — this is the current policy and it could be subject to change — we are cheaper than Uber. We did come up with a pricing formula that would still be more affordable, reliable and efficient than Uber or Lyft if a ride is outside our operating area. We [go] ahead and [do] the base rate for the vehicle. These prices are listed across many of our flyers (also pictured above). After we get out of our operating area, we bill for time instead of distance. While we have the riders in the vehicle, it is $1 per minute. On the way back from drop-off, it’s 50 cents. We are considering this for expansion, and we are looking for more workforce to handle this effort. I do see us going farther out from here. This will ultimately be our headquarters, but we are looking to target these other niche schools around BG down the road.”

Speaking of pricing formulas, how do you keep your services affordable and accessible to college students living on a budget?

“Our prices are by far cheaper than Uber, Lyft, etc. The way that we can do this is through the means of really mitigating costs in other areas. Consider application development and automation: One day, to handle mass-scale, we are going to need that. In the long-run, this could save money; in the short-term, it is very, very expensive. The most effective way to take advantage of low prices as a consumer is to be within the operating area. Even outside, it is cheaper, but within the operating boundaries, we can make it from home base to the client within three minutes to five minutes and then drop them off wherever they need. In doing this, our trips can be back to back to back, whereas Uber might have people constantly waiting for the next available ride. We have it set up in a way where we can optimize the amount of drivers that we have on the road from prior collective data. With this data, we leverage how the night may be affected by other variables, such as by the weather. Constant analysis of data and optimization of the driver’s schedule flexibility keeps our prices low. The ultimate goal is to provide flexibility to the community as well.”

How do you ensure the safety of both your drivers and your customers?

“From the top down, safety is of the utmost importance to us. Aside from generalized background checks, our hiring team and onboarding team actually does the due diligence of going through and screening these applicants one by one. This is a deep, individualized web crawl. We’re also going across their social media so we get an idea of the things they post. We’re gauging who they are as a person. When they step in for an interview, we ask them feeler questions like, ‘why do you want to do this?’ These vary in answer, neither right nor wrong, but the ones that are superstars really connect with the mission we have. We also include lots and lots of policies and training as well. One of the things that we do after we screen these drivers is take a look at insurance coverage. A lot of the issues going on right now with rideshare companies is that they have independent drivers that get on there and go, ‘hey, I want to give you guys a ride tonight.’ That’s cool and all, but the insurance company won’t cover those individuals in the event that they have a liability. We’re making sure that all of our drivers have added rideshare coverage. Another thing that’s super important moving forward is the introduction of dashcams. This helps ensure bumper-to-bumper coverage and protection. We’re stacked with policies and training and we also always make sure to look at the weather ahead of time. We wouldn’t want to put anyone in harm’s way.”

What do you envision for the future of ZiggyZooms?

“My envisionment for ZiggyZooms is ultimately that one day, we can deliver the most reliable, effective and affordable service when it comes to transportation for our clients. I envision a safer community with much, much less driving under the influence. Truthfully — and this is going to be ‘punny’ — it is the cost of less than one beer to get a ride. If a consumer really looks at how to price it out and take advantage of our service at our low rates, there’s no reason for going out there and getting behind the wheel intoxicated. We really want to eradicate this as much as possible. We can’t eradicate every instance, but our goal is to reduce drunk driving and bring this to other areas of need as well. I ultimately see ZiggyZooms becoming a staple for Bowling Green. As mentioned before, COVID-19 killed a lot of rideshare services here. I think we do it differently. I think we do it in a way that is going to be highly marketable to our students and to our future following. This is the first semester we are operating. We’re only a month-and-a-half old, but we have supported over 1,300 riders at this point. We are smashing records beyond belief. I just want this place to be a safer environment for everybody. I want everybody to know and to take advantage of this awesome service that we offer. We’re really in it because this is a need, and we are very, very ready to take on any challenge to accomplish our goals.”

Is there anything that we haven’t discussed about you or ZiggyZooms that you feel readers should know?

“If you guys are willing and able, and you really want to get behind this mission, I invite you to apply. I also want to open up to the community and invite them to come and try out our service. Even if you don’t want to be a part of the team, utilizing the service supports us and the cause. As long as we still have students to support and we are growing that base, we will continue to grow in this cause and mission.”