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Buzz Rides says they're growing even without money from Student Congress

Parker Draughon, left, and Joey Skavroneck are business partners and operators of Buzz Rides, a free alternative transportation on campus.

Parker Draughon, left, and Joey Skavroneck are business partners and operators of Buzz Rides, a free alternative transportation on campus.

“We’re very happy where demand is right now,” said Chris Jones, CFO of the company.

Buzz Rides was denied student government funding in 2014 after Student Congress passed a bill banning the Safety and Security Committee from designating student fee money to for-profit companies.

Student Congress denied the funding because it confers money from student fees only to student organizations. Though it’s run by students, Buzz Rides is not a recognized student organization.

“The purpose of that fee is to support student organizations, not for-profits,” David Joyner, speaker of Student Congress, said.

Joyner said if a representative wanted to introduce legislation to change that law, the legislation would go through the same process as any other bill — but right now, Student Congress is more focused on representing all students than revising financial rules.

“We are pretty confident in our current financial regulations,” he said.

Joey Skavroneck, co-founder and CEO of Buzz Rides, said since the 2014 denial, they have not submitted another funding request.

“They’ve made it very clear on their platform that they don’t want to work with UNC entrepreneurs,” he said. “They like to play a lot of political games, stuff you’d see on House of Cards, and you know, we’re too busy making sure students get home safe and making sure we make a real impact here and leave a legacy here.”

Jones said after Buzz Rides was denied funding from Student Congress, they had to be more entrepreneurial, so they started to investigate into how the University handles late night safety on campus.

They used the UNC Research Hub to do a safety study, based on transportation and safety data obtained from the Department of Public Safety and Alert Carolina. They say they found that Buzz Rides can transport students home 100 times cheaper than these other services, at a cost of only 49 cents per ride.

Their report also said only 51.43 percent of reported assaults and robberies occurred within the zone that SafeWalk and the P2P’s Library Shuttle cover, and only 8.82 percent of these events occurred within the times these services operate.

“It’s really stunning, you know, what UNC has paid for, you know, to get students home safely,” said Jones.

Buzz Rides said it doesn’t see Uber as a competitor, because Uber costs money, while Buzz Rides is free.

Skavroneck said instead, they see media advertisers as their competition, because Buzz Rides is able to make a profit by wrapping their vehicles in advertisements.

He also said much of Buzz Rides’ publicity is organic and their service is promoted through word of mouth.

“We don’t need to spend money on a big marketing push,” Skavronek said.

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