Nottingham students in for a ride(-share)

A new riding app, UniLift, is launching to help students with travel. Matteo Everett finds out more for Impact Features

Nottingham-based young entrepreneur Roshan Sood has released the UK’s first students-only ride-sharing app UniLift, and it’s getting its own launch party at Crisis on the 31st of January.

If there wasn’t always enough of an incentive to scour the Buy and Sell page for hours on end looking for those elusive Crisis tickets, UniLift will be giving away some freebies to make the 31st a night you won’t want to miss.

As well as handing out a tonne of lighters (“useful even if you don’t smoke,” Sood assures me), people who have pre-downloaded the app (available now!) and have registered will automatically be entered into a prize draw with three lucky winners walking away with £75 cash. (Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Crisis – if you’re an early-downloader and have won the prize, UniLift can contact you via email.) And people who like and share the UniLift Facebook page will be entered into a prize-draw to win free entry for Crisis for following weeks, too.

“Rail fares in Britain are ridiculous”

But what actually is UniLift, and how will it make your life easier? I sat down with Sood to find out.

So, tell me a bit about UniLift?

“On my year abroad in Valencia, I realised just how expensive travelling is – rail fares in Spain, like in Britain, are ridiculous. But I used a ride-share service to help me get places and had a great time with it. As well as meeting interesting people (I’m still in touch with a few people I met through this service), locals can recommend you the best bars and clubs and places of interest to go to, so you’ve got a connection with the city before you even go there.

“UniLift is about making travel more inclusive”

Sometimes we’d travel with people who are much older – like in their forties – but we found the experience was best when we travelled with students our age, as you connect with them more.

When I came back to the UK, I realised there was a gap in the market. There are ride-sharing groups on Facebook but lots of students are unaware of them, so there’s a big opportunity to transfer this service to an app to make it efficient. We did some market-researching and found a high demand for the product, especially as travel is becoming more inhibited with increasing costs – UniLift is about making it more inclusive.”

So, the app is for inter-city travel? You won’t be replacing DG anytime soon?

“There are two sides to it – the defining thing is we’re not Uber, as you wouldn’t get a UniLift ride to and from nights out. However, you might get it when commuting to campus – especially for universities like Trent, which has three separate campuses.

“You have to be a student to use the service”

Then there’s city-to-city travel both in and out of term time. You might be travelling home, you might be travelling to see a friend or to a job interview – there’s all those kind of things. Students are always on the move during holidays, too – UniLift can help you get to festivals, for instance. It’s really about providing affordable travel for students all year-round, with an added emphasis on the social side of things.”

How does UniLift ensure the protection of students?

“We’ve integrated a few features to help mitigate any harmful situations. Firstly, you have to be a student to use the service, and only people with .ac.uk email-addresses can register. This registration makes you identifiable to your university, too, so they know you’re using our service.

“UniLift will hopefully garner a let’s help each other out mentality”

Secondly, we GPS-track every journey so if there’s a dispute we can see where cars were at certain times. We also require users to upload their licences before undergoing a journey, and there’s a feature which allows passengers to review their experiences with drivers which others can read when planning a journey. UniLift also has an inbuilt IM feature, so you can decide if you’re comfortable with your driver beforehand.

By confining the service to the student community, UniLift will hopefully garner a let’s help each other out mentality rather than fuelling money-making motives, though while we recommend prices for journeys it’s ultimately the decision of drivers to decide how much they charge.”

[UniLift makes money through booking fees – there aren’t any advertisements on the app just yet – but “over 80%” of what they make goes toward development costs and maintaining servers.]

Do you reckon UniLift will be able to heal any rifts in the UoN-Trent relationship?

“In the world we are living in now we have many metaphorical borders, but people are more connected than ever. While creating this app I reached out to people in India and Ukraine, and I didn’t even need to leave the UK! The world is becoming a borderless place, but if you look at universities, we’re all still very confined to our four walls and our campuses.

“UniLift seems as much about bringing like-minded people together as it is decreasing the cost of travel”

I accept universities have their own academic standards and it’s always going to be that way, but there’s no reason why students from different universities shouldn’t be able to connect with each other and reach out to each other at any moment in time.

Nottingham students should be able to connect with Trent students, but they should also be able to connect with Manchester students, and Liverpool students – and I don’t believe there’s any platform for that yet.”


UniLift seems as much about bringing like-minded people together as it is decreasing the cost of travel. Sood’s eyes light up as he asks me to imagine the possibilities of innovation a first year medic, a second-year economist and third-year language student (who would never spend time together on campus) sitting in a car together for two hours can bring. As well as being a great way to save money, UniLift is “unique opportunity for students to mix across subjects and age-gaps” – and who doesn’t like the sound of that?

UniLift Launch Party will be held at Crisis on the 31st of January.

UniLift are looking for Student Brand Ambassadors – email asha@unilift.io for more information.

Matteo Everett

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Image courtesy of Arcadius on Flickr.


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