We spoke with Ayesha Rees, CEO at ride-hailing app UVA UK, ahead of the new challenger brand’s launch, which has set its sights firmly on changing the ride-hailing industry for good.
Focussing on safety, rigorous driver training and humanising app technology, UVA aims to develop trust between passengers and drivers, and strengthen community relationships within the cities it will operate in.
Tell us about UVA UK
UVA is an app-based, tech-driven, people-focused company that’s set to become a real market disruptor. We’re set to launch in several cities early this year. Our drivers and passengers are at the heart of everything we do, providing a service that’s always honest and always safe.
What sets us apart is that our pricing is standardised. That means there’s no ‘surge charge’ when the roads are busy, so there will be no hidden charges or nasty surprises for passengers.
Our rides will be delivered by trusted drivers and standards controlled by us, so passengers will have confidence that every ride will be as good as the one before, if not better!
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I had a desire to run a company that didn’t just pay lip service to the importance of high-quality customer service but put it at the core of their entire operation.
Additionally, as a woman who often gets taxis alone for business meetings, I am passionate about providing a safe, reliable and easy-to-use service for all commuters.
For too long ride-hailing apps have taken advantage of drivers with outdated and immoral business models, resulting in an unreliable ‘lottery experience’ for passengers. I wanted to create an approach where UVA does the right thing by everyone it touches.
How are you using technology responsibly?
We’re reimagining the way ride-hailing works, and the way we will use technology to benefit both drivers and passengers is one of the driving forces towards that goal.
We want to go well beyond a name and a rating system. Our driver training is digitised through the app and measurable every step of the way. Once drivers pass initial deep-dive tests, they’re encouraged to take regular modules on all manner of subjects including Black Lives Matters, LGBTQ+ issues and White Privilege to build trust in our communities.
We’re serious about safety and to offer further peace of mind, our customers will be able to call our Customer Excellence Centre through the app, 24 hours a day, should they have any concerns. We’ve also recently introduced Yoti, a digital system that verifies drivers while protecting personal information, for additional security.
How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
We founded UVA in December 2019 intending to launch in 2020. However, the pandemic had other plans! Identifying the best time to launch in the face of swiftly changing regulations has been one of the most consistent challenges but it has definitely made us and our proposition stronger.
In that time, we’ve developed a robust brand, refined our operations and prepared ourselves for whatever the future may hold for our exciting, new start-up. We’ve all been working so hard to make this dream a reality and we’re raring to go!
What can we hope to see from UVA in the future?
UVA has big ambitions! In the long term, we will become a UK-wide operation, synonymous with outstanding service.
The timing of a national roll-out is largely dependent on how the initial launch goes, although roughly we aim to be in a new city across the UK every six months.
At its heart, UVA plans to become a vital part of the local communities we serve and plans to donate 3% of overall profits to charities.