App helps Skolkovo staff hitch a free ride to work

People working at the Skolkovo innovation city outside Moscow can now get a free lift to and from work and get to know their colleagues at the same time, thanks to an app designed by resident startup DaDaEdu, whose name translates as “Yes yes, I’m on my way.”

More than 1,000 people work in the giant Skolkovo Technopark, and many commute on public transport. Photo: Sk.ru.

The giant Skolkovo Technopark is the latest place of work to be added to the free DaDaEdu app, which enables employees to find drivers who can offer them a lift to and from work. More than 100 Skolkovians have already registered with the app since the Technopark service was launched on July 3.

“It’s especially good for passengers who have to change onto different public transport lines on their commute,” said Ilya Zelenchuk, CEO of DaDaEdu, a resident startup of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster. “It saves people time and energy: it’s no secret that people become really tired just from travelling.”

Drivers, in turn, get to know their colleagues, have someone to talk to when stuck in traffic, and also collect points for every lift they give, which can then be exchanged for petrol and other incentives. 

Drivers earn points for each ride they give, which can then be exchanged for incentives such as petrol, meals and discounted parking.

“They can exchange the points for different things: it could be discounted parking, free breakfasts, and so on,” said Zelenchuk. “So far, they can only be exchanged for petrol, but soon we plan to make agreements with restaurants and cafes.”

Drivers get 10 points for every lift they give to each person, so if they have two passengers, their points are doubled. Once they have accumulated some points, they can exchange 299 points for 30 litres of petrol, or 499 for a full tank or 60 litres of petrol.

The incentives are funded by the place of work: in Skolkovo’s case, the Technopark, though currently the app is operating under a three-month trial period free of charge.

Elizaveta Samartseva, head of programme projects and competition programmes at the Technopark, tested the service as a passenger soon after it launched at Skolkovo.

“It works really well,” she said. “A minute after I registered, I got a message saying there was a new route next to my home. I got in touch with the people, who turned out to be from a Skolkovo resident startup. In the morning, I knocked nearly an hour off my commute to work, and really enjoyed myself at the same time.” She previously took the metro and then a bus to work, she said. 

Ilya Zelenchuk, CEO of rideshare app DaDaEdu. Photo: I. Zelenchuk.

The service is designed to bring together colleagues who can help each other out on a regular basis, said Zelenchuk, but users are under no obligation to use it every day. Samartseva said she was using the service with the same drivers when their timings and destinations coincided.

The Technopark, which officially opened its doors at the beginning of this year, is the biggest technopark in Europe, and is the workplace of more than 1,000 people, including Skolkovo resident startups, partner companies and staff of the Skolkovo Foundation itself. Given the Skolkovo innovation hub’s out-of-town location in a former greenfield site 24 kilometres from the centre of Moscow, any new transport hacks are welcome. There are currently buses to and from Slavyansky Bulvar metro station, as well as to the Tryokhgorka and Odyntsova train stations. Earlier this year, the BelkaCar car sharing scheme expanded to Skolkovo, and a train link to Moscow’s Belarussky rail station is due to open at the centre of Skolkovo next year.

DaDaEdu was first launched in December at six major Sberbank facilities around Moscow and in a business park in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. The app focuses on large business centres where high volumes of people work. It now operates at 13 locations, including the Moscow City high-rise financial district, and is preparing to launch at another innovations centre in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan. More than 350 people are registered with the app at Sberbank’s headquarters in southern Moscow, while the app’s total number of users exceeds 1,400.