UT senior creates startup for Tesla transportation across Texas

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Photo Credit: Jeb Milling | Daily Texan Staff

Traveling between major Texas cities in a Tesla Model X is now a possibility for anyone, due to a startup company founded this year by a UT senior.

Mechanical engineering senior Mandeep Patel turned his idea into a reality when he founded ElecTrip last March. He said he was spurred by the market demand for cross-state transportation and the profitability of electric vehicles.

“I realized it was a big business need to be able to take people from city to city in a cost-effective way in which they could be productive and safe,” Patel said. “Because there’s very few costs associated with running an electric vehicle, you can be very cost competitive.”

Patel said he began the business by purchasing one Tesla himself. Since then, he said ElecTrip has adopted four more Teslas by approaching local owners and negotiating to periodically borrow their vehicles in return for benefits, such as tire replacement and car detailing. In addition to this, he said ElecTrip has scaled to include three professional drivers, a marketing agency and an advisory board.

The average cost per ride is $225, and the company completes between 10 and 15 rides per month, Patel said.

Patel said ElecTrip was at first focusing on individual rides, but he realized there was a better market in offering subscription-based services for businesses with employees who travel regularly. He attributes the company’s success to this transition. 

“We’ve been growing pretty considerably,” Patel said. “In terms of economics, we’re growing at 22 percent per month.”

The company is currently worth $250,000, but Patel said if they can add one ride per day until December 2019, ElecTrip would be valued at $25 million.

Cindy Zimmerman is an academic advising coordinator for the Engineering Student Services Office and often gave Patel feedback throughout his career at UT.

“I am super impressed with Mandeep,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve known him for four years and he continues to amaze me.”

Harmony Public Schools, which are charter schools in Texas which focus on math and science, offered their testimony on ElecTrip.

“It’s a great company with outstanding service,” Izzettin Aslan, the Austin coordinator for Harmony, said in an email. “Convenience is another great plus.”

Patel said the company’s primary mission is promoting more sustainable transportation.

“We want to encourage automakers to make more electric cars,” Patel said. “ElecTrip’s goal is to reduce the cost and carbon footprint of travel.”