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UNC sophomores launch free electric car transport

Joey Scavronek (white shirt) and Parker Draughon (blue shirt) are business partners and operators of Buzz Rides, a free alternative transportation on campus.
Joey Scavronek (white shirt) and Parker Draughon (blue shirt) are business partners and operators of Buzz Rides, a free alternative transportation on campus.

From walking to Franklin Street to trying to catch a P2P, late nights on campus are often a hassle for students.

But the latest business venture of two UNC sophomores is helping to alleviate this problem — and it’s causing quite a buzz.

Joey Skavroneck and Parker Draughon, who are both in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, are providing quick, safe and free transportation services to UNC students with their latest business venture.

Buzz Rides, which launched on Sept. 3, is a taxi-like service that is run with small electric cars.
It has already provided hundreds of students with free service.

“We want to promote safety to students,” Skavroneck said.

“Students have an opportunity to get a free ride if they have a party of four or more, they give us a call and we come pick them up.”

Buzz Rides provides door-to-door service five nights a week, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 p.m. until 2:30 a.m.

The transportation service operates within a 1.5-to-2-mile radius of campus, reaching some off-campus apartments and suburbs.

Skavroneck added that they will be providing services on football and basketball game days as well.

Skavroneck and Draughon said they were inspired to bring Buzz Rides to UNC after a global immersion trip to India over the summer.

“While we were there and everywhere we went, we rode on these taxis called tuk-tuks — these open-aired vehicles that seated three people,” Draughon said.

“We just really loved the idea of an open-aired taxi and how cheap it was. We just wanted to bring it back to Carolina.”

Though providing free service to students comes at a cost, Skavroneck and Draughon have created a working business model for Buzz Rides.

“We provide an opportunity for businesses to reach out to college-age students,” Skavroneck said.

“We provide a mobile interactive advertising that gives students exposure (to businesses) that they’ve never experienced before.”

Skavroneck said they provide samples, coupons, brochures and giveaway information to passengers during their car rides.

“One of our packages even includes driver branding, where our drivers are fully branded with the business’s logos and message,” he added.

“They are specifically trained and educated about products, to tell college students about it.”

Skavroneck and Draughon have launched a partnership with Roote North Carolina, an organic food and lifestyle company that provides shoppers sample locally-made, organic produce.

Advertisements from Roote will cover Buzz Rides cars.

David Coggins, executive director of Roote North Carolina, said that the collaboration between the two businesses was a natural fit.

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“Roote promotes and sells North Carolina products in the natural, organic and sustainable markets,” Coggins said.

“The completely electric vehicle that Buzz Rides is using fits our mission to advocate for more sustainable alternatives.”

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