Savannah Jordan didn’t plan to launch a business at 18. She was considering a future career as an elementary school teacher, scoping out part-time job options flexible enough to balance with college. A people person who lives in ride-hail-dense Southern California, Uber was almost a fit. Almost. But she could end up with anyone in her backseat.
Jordan was hesitant to even be a passenger after hearing her girlfriends’ stories of aggressive drivers. She was talking about it with her father, William Jordan, one night in January 2016 when the idea came: What if there was a ride company for women, with women drivers?
See Jane Go today offers rides in Orange County and Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. After the Jordans invested their own money and did two fundraising rounds—guided by William’s extensive investment experience as a wealth manager—See Jane Go began its current test launch in September 2016.
Photo courtesy of See Jane Go
The startup for the safety-conscious continues to raise capital to expand into other U.S. cities, and eventually, other countries.
William, his daughter’s official co-founder in the Laguna Hills-based company, wants to clarify that they’re not on any kind of misandrist mission. “See Jane Go doesn’t hate men,” he said in an interview alongside Savannah earlier this month. “We just don’t think a woman should have to ride alone with a man.” Males, he noted, can come along as a secondary passenger when a female primary rider “vouches” for him. The service has driven couples, mothers with sons, and groups of friends, and will continue to.
While See Jane Go avoids characterizing men as dangerous, the nascent concept has benefited from disturbing local news in recent months. An Uber driver was charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious 17-year-old girl in Laguna Niguel, not far from See Jane Go’s headquarters, in November 2016. The assailant also lived in Orange County, and had picked the victim up from a bar before he was discovered assaulting her in the backseat of his car, by one of her family members.
Two months earlier in September 2016, at about the same time See Jane Go had started operating in beta, an Uber driver in nearby Los Angeles became enraged when his passenger asked him to stop texting while driving, eventually attempting to drag her from the car. She captured the incident on video using her phone.
Other incidents around the world sometimes make the news, helped by taxi lobby TLPA and its website Who’s Driving You?.
Now that See Jane Go is through its initial growing pains—working out kinks in the app and recruiting qualified drivers—local ladies can swipe for a ride on their phones, as with competitors Lyft and Uber, or they can pre-schedule needed transportation.
Such pre-scheduling is popular among the elderly women whom Alely Casas, 40, counts among her regulars. Casas ferries them to the pharmacy, to doctor appointments, and on weekly shopping excursions. Her customers don’t have to rely on family as much, and Casas gets to spend more time with her own.
A mother of three, Casas enjoys the flexibility that allows her more time with her 4- and 10-year-old than she had with her 22-year-old when he was younger. “I can be with my little ones,” Casas said in a phone interview. Her past career was in administrative work.
Savannah, now 19, has postponed a teaching career to focus on growing the company. San Diego is the next region her fleet will serve. For features, Jane will add technology to transport teens, though the specifics and start date have not been released.
Photo of Savannah Jordan courtesy of See Jane Go
DiAnne Lee Abshire has combined driving and customer service for 20 years, at varying times behind the wheel of a limo, and as a delivery driver. She now drives for See Jane Go in addition to the anyone-at-all clientele of Lyft and Uber.
Abshire hasn’t had any safety incidents yet, but she had avoided testing her luck by leaving the Uber and Lyft apps off at night, even though it could be a lucrative shift around Orange County’s bar districts. Now she can earn during that time. Abshire observed “See Jane Go has opened up evenings [earning opportunity] for me.”
The more personable contact extends to her interactions with management. She’s feels she’s getting a business marketing education from watching the occasional pivot and revamp, and her input is welcome: “This whole venture is geared toward ‘Hey, let’s talk about this, let’s make it better.’”
If she has a problem on the road, Abshire said, “I don’t even have a real, live person I can talk to at Uber or Lyft.”