Question: What do you get when you combine the entrepreneurial moxie of two ambitious college students, a real estate development company looking to make Wilmington hip and the app-technology of an Uber or Lyft?
Answer: WilminGo, a new golf cart taxi service that will soon be open for business, whizzing passengers around the downtown Market Street area when summoned by app. What’s more, drivers will ferry fare-paying customers to and fro offering a little local color and historical commentary, pointing out attractions and points of interest.
Bringing a golf cart taxi service to Wilmington was the brainchild of Chris Buccini, of the Buccini/Polin Group, who saw happy riders using a similar hop on/hop off service in Nashville, TN.
But it was University of Delaware students Andrew Cercena, 19, and Matt Lombardi, 21, both of UD’s Horn Center for Entrepreneurship, who developed the business plan, came up with the catchy name, and are now figuring out how to market the new golf taxi service.
“Buccini Polin was looking for a partnership with Horn focused on a project that could benefit the city,” said Cercena, who graduated from Tower Hill School last year. “We pitched our ideas to them, and they were positive.”
The firm is covering all of the start-up costs, including marketing and maintenance. But this week the entrepreneurs lined up their first sponsor/advertiser: WSFS Bank. The golf cart will take on a new look – white – so the bank’s green logo pops. The makeover will be spearheaded by Carvertise – another local business spawned from the UD Horn Entrepreneurship program – who will wrap each vehicle.
The “street legal, low-speed” vehicle that will be WilminGo’s maiden taxi is a classic six-seat golf cart that won’t eclipse speeds of 25 miles per hour on its short cross-town jaunts. This being an entrepreneurship project, naturally, the cart will also be showcasing advertisements for Wilmington businesses.
“We had some fun shopping for the golf cart,” said Lombardi, of West Chester (Bayard Rustin High School ’15). “We wanted a top of the line, electric golf cart with a really smooth ride.”
Cercena says initial pricing will be standard for all rides – a $3 flat rate for 1 to 2 passengers and $5 for 3 to 5 passengers. The service is available for hire for bar crawls at a premium (but well worth it!) price (need to look into the city’s open container laws…). Drivers will be recruited from the ranks of “Wilmington enthusiasts” and trained and certified as guides by the Delaware Historical Society.
“We want drivers definitely to be passionate about Wilmington and we wanted them to have inclusive and inviting personalities, so people would feel safe and excited about their rides – so it would be a positive and memorable experience,” said Cercena.
“We’re calling them our golf cart ambassadors, not drivers,” added Lombardi. They’ve already hired their first two drivers and have good leads on other prospects.
The service will operate seven days a week from May 1 to October 31, generally during peak lunch hour downtown (11 am – 3 pm) and longer evening hours on the weekends. The geographic area served will stretch from 2ndStreet to 12thstreet and Walnut to Washington — a total of 39 blocks.
The WilmGo Apple and iOS apps should be ready in a matter of days. For more on WilminGo, visit their website at wilmingoride.com or Instagram @wilmingoride.