By NATHAN GARDNER
John Snee, a senior economics major, is currently developing his business, University Limo, in the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center. When launched, the service will provide limos to UT students who request them through a ridesharing app.
Snee, originally from northern New Jersey, made the move to Tampa after he spent his first spring break with a friend who happened to go to UT.
“When I came down, it looked like a resort to me and I knew I wanted to transfer,” Snee said. “The weather is great. I hate the cold.”
Not long after he made the move, Snee went out for a night in Ybor with friends when he came to the conclusion there should be a better way for them to get around as a group.
“We all use Uber, but if you have a big group you all have to try to cram in or get two Ubers,” Snee said. “Why take an Uber when you can’t all fit in it?”
The app will work like this: one person in a group of up to nine friends will go to the University Limo app and create a new ride with a unique name. The other members of that party will look up the ride by that unique name and add themselves to the group. The ride will have a $20 minimum with a $5 charge per person after the fourth passenger. The cost will be split evenly among everyone in the group, and they can be brought to a wide range of locations stretching from SoHo to Ybor.
In addition to the ride being “more stylish” than an Uber, Snee said, riders will have access to non-alcoholic drinks and snacks and will be able to play their own music to get their night started.
Snee currently has 15 popular locations that will be preset into the app, though riders will also be able to type in a specific address if they choose. There will be at least one preset ride package that will take students on a small happy-hour bar crawl, starting at MacDinton’s at 6 p.m. and ending at Station Grill.
Though many aspects of the business are still being figured out, Snee is optimistic about his ambitions.
“I want to be the new Uber,” Snee laughed. “I probably shouldn’t say anything too bad about Uber, they’re pretty big and have a lot of resources. But, this will be a more fun and enjoyable way.”
When launched, tentatively during the Fall 2017 semester, the service will cater specifically to UT students, though Snee plans to expand rapidly. Initially, he plans to move into other cities in Florida, including Miami and Gainesville, though he hopes to move into college towns across the country.
And “move into” isn’t just a figurative statement. Snee wants to move to each city and set that branch up himself, despite being in a serious relationship.
In fact, Snee’s girlfriend, Haley Chapman, a sophomore writing major, is excited about the prospect.
“It’s something that I’d like to accompany him on,” Chapman said. “I’m 100 percent on board. I’m really excited; I think it’s a promising idea, and I like seeing how far he’s come and how he’s moving forward with it.”
Although there’s no way to know for sure how the business will do when it’s launched in the fall, if students’ reactions around campus are any indication, it should do well.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Michael Dec, a freshman finance major. “Whenever we go out, there are at least five [of us]. It would definitely be a money saver instead of times we have take two or three Ubers.”
If filled to capacity, a University Limo would cost students $45. That’s considerably more than the approximately $25 two XL Ubers (without surge pricing) would cost to Ybor. Armed with this information, many students still thought the limo would be a good investment.
“I think $5 is a good cost,” said Larenz Harris, a sophomore majoring in theater arts. “That’s two or three dollars more a person, but it’s for a limo. I think it would be worth it.”
Nathan Gardner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.