Exclusive: Matt Barnes Becomes The Face Of HOPP, A Rideshare App Linking Users To Drivers Based Off Interests
Photo Credit: Tiffany Rose

Exclusive: Matt Barnes Becomes The Face Of HOPP, A Rideshare App Linking Users To Drivers Based Off Interests

Ball may be life but so is business!

From early days of playing basketball to now acting as partners on a new rideshare venture that will bring innovation to the states like never before, Ray Young and Khalid Taylor alongside former NBA player turned entrepreneur, Matt Barnes, are here to change the way you catch a ride from here on out.

According to a press release provided to AfroTech, HOPP — the first geosocial ride matchmaking app — offers an added layer of comfort to drivers that it claims the competition does not. The app allows users to book rides based on a personality profile set up within the platform that matches them with people whose interests they align with the most.

While the partners stress that you can make money just like you would when driving for Uber and Lyft, that is not the driving factor with the new app, which was founded by co-founders Antoine Allain, Eve Mitchell, and Fabrice Allain. 

“This is a ‘help you’ service. So, if I’m going in a certain direction, let’s say San Diego at 7 o’clock in the morning tomorrow and I’m driving by myself, but I have two extra seats, I can post that I’m going in that direction and you can hop in my ride with me,” Taylor, Edgemont Way Ventures Co-Founder, told AfroTech. “I’m not driving around looking for rides like Lyft or Uber or a taxi or anything like that. The basis of HOPP, really the best part, is that we base it off of you getting connected with people that have the same or similar interests as you do.”

For instance, if your interests consist of venture capital, the Raiders, and golf, the app will match you with like-minded people. It even has social media networks like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter integrated within it with an API system that then matches a person with what, according to their interests, is the best fit.

How It All Started

One phone call that Taylor made to Young encouraging him to get behind a new innovative platform aiming to change the rideshare industry for the better, led to a partnership with former NBA player and entrepreneur, Matt Barnes.

Young, who has known Barnes since their formative years, immediately thought of how when they both went away to attend The University of California (UCLA), the pair always found a hassle in getting transportation back to their home of Santa Clara, CA, which was five-plus hours away.

“We were all in college at the exact same time, me and Matt were at UCLA, and Khalid was at Long Beach State University. So, we remember how during our freshman year it was always a big deal of how to get home for the weekend,” Young recalled. “When Khalid told me about this app, one of the first things that came to Matt’s mind when I explained it to him was that same college experience.”

Fast forward to today, and the app will launch in partnership with where it all started — UCLA. Not only will the students using the app be able to match with users based on interests, but because it’s a first-of-its-kind company that matches people with drivers that are already heading in the same direction as them, the ride costs are also significantly cheaper (Perfect timing with gas prices reportedly at a record high of $8.45 at a Northern California gas station). 

“UCLA is where the story started, with myself and Matt, but we’ll also be going to Khalid’s school, Long Beach State, next,” Young said. “We figured that starting with UCLA would be great because it has over 40,000 students. So, it makes sense in terms of getting the message out.”

He continued: “During our freshman year at the university, we were always trying to figure out a way to get a ride home and we had everything from messaging boards in the dorms to all kinds of creative ways just to get home. So, it feels good to take it back [to] where it all started.”

It’s a moment that is also a full circle for Barnes who reflects back on those days in school.

“The memories I’ve made with Ray and Khalid —specifically during our years in college — are reflective of HOPP’s mission,” Barnes told AfroTech. “I think back to how difficult it was to find a ride home to see family on weekends during the semesters. Most college students don’t have a steady income and it was no different for the three of us. We were always asking people who were going to one city or another for rides, sometimes traveling out of the way before arriving at our final destination.”

Enhanced Safety Features

The safety of women was also a big factor during the development of HOPP. While the app in its entirety is set up to allow users more control over who they ride with by having them actually select and view various profiles before landing on a decision for a driver, they also wanted to enhance the security for women who will be using the platform.

“We made sure that women specifically feel more protected,” Young explained. “Let’s say you’re traveling from Virginia to D.C, you can literally click a button to unlock ‘Women To Women’ which will only pull up women riders or drivers depending on which way you’re using the app.”

A Peek Into The Future

Although HOPP has not yet launched nationwide, it will be exciting to see where the platform goes as they plan to go live in other major U.S. markets over time.

“I think HOPP is going to be the next big thing,” Taylor exclaimed. “It’s going to be the next Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash.”

Click here to learn more about HOPP.