By Summit Daily Staff Writer Taylor Sienkiewicz
FRISCO — Erwin Germain moved to Colorado from the French and Swiss Alps and wondered why residents weren’t using ride-shares. While Uber and Lyft are available, they largely operate as taxi services. Germain envisioned a true carpooling system for getting to and around the mountains. If two or more strangers could ride together from Denver to the ski resorts, it would cut down on pollution, energy consumption and the dreaded Interstate 70 traffic.
As a driver for Summit Express, Germain knew there was a market for this type of business. After spending four years coming up with a plan for the app with his business partner, Colorado native Justin Kurtz, Germain plans to launch TreadShare on Saturday, Dec. 7.
“The idea is to use a vehicle that’s already on the road,” Germain said. “Say I want to go from Denver to Keystone, and I have two empty seats. I post my trip on the app. Then, people interested to find a ride can navigate on the app and can book directly on the app.”
While an Uber ride from Denver to Keystone Resort costs about $100 during non-surge times, Germain said the fee for riders using TreadShare is about $15 because it is meant to simply cover the cost of gas and mileage.
“The fare that the passenger paid will go to the driver minus the service fee,” Germain said.
Germain explained that when a rider books a one-way trip to the mountains, they also can see when the driver plans to return and can book again with the same person. If plans don’t line up, the rider can book with someone else.
“It’s saving money for the rider, and it’s helping to cover the cost of owning the vehicle of the driver,” Germain said. “Then, there’s a social aspect of making friends.”
TreadShare is a business registered in Frisco, so while Germain got the idea from his experiences in Europe, he has worked with Kurtz to adjust the business model to Colorado residents. Adaptations the team has made include educating the driver on the new I-70 traction laws, having the option for ski gear, connecting social media profiles to driver and passenger app profiles, and the option to leave reviews. Germain said the reviews are meant to reassure people that they are riding with someone who is safe and reliable.
To help get his business off the ground, Germain plans to work with ski resorts, universities and other areas that would benefit most from the service. He also said that while he thinks Colorado is the perfect place to start, he plans to expand to other states if they are able to reach a certain number of rides.