AUSTIN (KXAN) — They say “What starts at the University of Texas at Austin changes the world” — and a 2019 graduate took that motto to heart.
Mandeep Patel turned down two job opportunities from corporate companies who offered him a six-figure salary, but he said what he’s doing is more valuable.
“This is what I wanted to do, this is what I wanted to be, this is where I knew I could provide more impact and value to the world so that’s what I decided to do,” said Patel.
He started his company, called Electrip, in March 2018 after he learned that over 250,000 people travel between four major Texas cities for work every week.
“That’s a lot of travel between cities that are four hours apart from each other,” he said. So he wanted to come up with a way to get people where they needed to be efficiently, and at a lower cost than a flight, traveling by bus or even driving yourself.
That’s when Electrip was started.
“With us you get to have the same experience and that gives you consistency in your travel and it gives you an option that is cost competitive with the electric vehicle,” Patel said. “It’s incredibly productive because you have no delays or issues with scheduling and you get to be very comfortable.”
While anyone can use the service, their main customers work in the corporate world. “Individuals that are trying to get to a meeting in another city or to close a deal and they’re just trying to be as effective as possible,” Patel said.
All the drivers are interviewed, go through a background check and their driving record is checked. Once that happens, Patel said they go through vehicle training.
The company owns three vehicles, and the other 12 on his fleet come from owners who allow Electrip to use their Tesla’s while they are at work or at home not using them, he even uses his sister’s vehicle.
“People aren’t lining up to give me lines of credit for Teslas’ — that’s just not a thing — but it does give us the opportunity to expand rapidly with the increased demand that we’ve experienced,” he said.
They give four trips per day right now, but hope to achieve 10 per day by the end of the year.
Patel took one year off of school to work full time and took another year off to start the company, but graduated from the UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering with a degree in mechanical engineering on Friday.
He doesn’t recommend the same path he took, and although he is happy he took the risk, it was a little bit tougher for his parents.
“My mom came here and she didn’t speak much English at all,” Patel explained, adding that her first job was at Walmart stacking boxes and now she has two degrees. “She fought so hard to give us opportunities ’cause when she was going to college she had to take one class a semester so that she could work two jobs and pay for everything.”
But his experience was different.
“We never had that hardship and so for me to go through and get my degree and ultimately turn down what is success in America was really hard for them and so I don’t really recommend this for everybody.”
His advice for other UT students:
“Don’t do things for the status and the accolade, just do it because you know that’s what you’re good at and try to create value.”