A trio of University of Utah students, Daniel Ruales, Josiah Purss and Ryan Bliss, arrived in New York City on Tuesday morning where they have begun a series of Uber rides through 16 cities across the United States until they reach their final destination in San Francisco.
The students met last year when Bliss was looking for a team to launch an app he developed called Hashtaggy, which connects college students to hangouts, activities and meetups with other students on campus. The app emphasizes “finding adventure” and encourages users to use the app to find fun activities and put their phones away so they can make real connections within their community.
“Breaking the record for longest Uber ride is pretty cool, but this trip is about so much more than that for us,” said Ruales, a marketing major, who was born in Ecuador and immigrated to Utah at age 7. “We want to showcase the rich diversity and beautiful landscapes across America.”
Ubering Across America: A Glimpse Into America’s Gig Economy
As budding entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, the partnership led to discussions about the American Dream and what that means to different Americans. Talks turned to Uber’s success and how the company is representative of America’s new “gig economy,” born out of the recession in 2008.
“There are a lot of amazing people living in our country, each with their own unique story,” Bliss said. “We’ve met people from Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and more; and we’ve only been out for two days. Uber is a great way to meet interesting people in the working class when traveling across America, and we’re excited to share their stories.”
The group has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the trip, during which they will film and publish a series of interviews recording the diverse experiences and perspectives of some of the 160,000+ Americans driving for Uber in order to achieve financial freedom. You can follow their adventures on their vlog.