By Angela Wyatt Braden
Michael Dewalt, 30, makes history as the first African American to own a ride-sharing application in the U.S. Dewalt vows to manage his company in a way that will directly benefit African American workers and customers alike.
Although Dewalt’s ride-sharing app is not officially a new idea, the app he started and named “Ride” is designed to be more affordable and accommodating to African Americans than his competition, Uber and Lyft. Additionally, he hopes that his company will create economic growth and opportunity in the African American community.
He was inspired to start his own business after studying the teachings of Dr. Boyce Watkins and Dr. Claude Anderson. Dewalt says that these men motivated him to create a business that would generate him and the community he is a part of wealth, rather than working for someone, who is keeping all the mass revenue to themselves.
“I was inspired by great teachers to build something Black-owned. I figure what better way to build something than starting a mobile application. I decided to start with a ride-sharing application as I saw [a] big opportunity in that market.”
The Illinois native got his entrepreneur feet wet by starting his own landscaping business. He said that starting and operating that business provided him with the experience and revenue to invest in his more profitable business venture.
“My experience with that helped teach me how to start a company, [and get] resources and capital needed to stay afloat. The biggest thing I learned is that I’d rather provide a platform than a labor service.”
Dewalt came up with the idea to start a ride-sharing app when he identified some of the deficits Uber and Lyft possessed. He put his idea in motion by approaching six former college classmates with the idea. This group went fast to work to create an app that hit the market and made a definite splash. Now, the Charlotte based company is operating in 2.4 US cities, in other countries, and steadily expanding its reach and customer base.
Dewalt says that he is confident that Ride will also solve the problem that many African Americans, men in particular, have when trying to hail a cab. He believes the best solution for this problem is by putting African American men behind the wheels of transportation services.
Another incentive for African Americans to support this company is that it put and keeps a steady stream of economic growth in the African American communities.
“Ride app provides [the] opportunity to be a driver and make money for the Black community,” DeWalt said. “If the app continues to grow, drivers could do it full or part time to generate income.”