When an opportunity comes knocking, you call up a good friend and make a venture out of it. That’s how the saying goes, right?
Inspired by a heartbreaking story to make lifechanging innovation, Terri Phipps and Mary Morrison Co-founded Wilma, Canada’s first women-driving-women ride hailing membership dedicated to creating a safe space for women and 2SLGBTQ+ folks to travel and work within the gig economy. After reading an all-too-common story on Twitter about one woman’s unsafe and nearly life-threatening experience with current ride hailing platforms, Co-founder Terri Phipps, a lifelong mentor for women in business and accredited leader in sales, was moved to turn her entrepreneurial spirit into something that could change the working and living world of women – thus, Wilma was founded. Having known Co-founder Mary Morrison, a strategy leader and market development expert, through a colleague relationship in previous years, she reached out to present a partnership on this community-driven venture, and before they knew it, they had a growing team of 18 employees and a North American launch coming around the corner.
It is impossible to summarize the success of a venture like Wilma, because no words can truly describe the years of ideas, fundraising, and dedication that built the business. Today, you can sign up to be a driver or start your membership, and on August 2nd, their fleet will hit the roads in our home of London, Ontario, Wilma’s first city to start driving.
“When a city says that one of its pillars is safety in their community, specifically for the women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ folks in their city, it made me think, ‘where have you been all my life?’”, said Mary Morrison, Co-founder of Wilma, “We have had wonderful and insightful conversations with Fanshawe College, Western University, the City of London, and TechAlliance advisors – everybody just wants to help, and it has been beautiful”.
Here’s how it works:
Wilma has a leg up on its competitors because of its unique payment options that keep costs lower for its users. Using a subscription-based model, riders can choose from monthly, quarterly, or annual payment options, allowing for flexibility and customization for each user. This membership replaces the need for booking fees or extra charges once the riders start booking their trips and pays for itself in just a few rides since the ride costs are lower than competitors. Of course, the prices fluctuate with time of day, traffic, geography, and other necessary variables, but the point is; Wilma is both cheaper and safer. With an extensive background checking system and advanced facial recognition technology integrated into the platform for screening drivers and ensuring safety, the membership format also allows for a purposeful focus on combating discrimination in the industry, something that has historically been difficult to accurately address and implement by ride hailing platforms since their inception.
Looking forward to the further expansion post-launch in London, the founders harp on ensuring that the platform remains fluid and is dictated by the members and community within it as its design builds and betters with future features that focus on the user experience. As they study the breakdown of safety for women and other marginalized communities in cities, Wilma’s expansion will follow socio-economic needs of cities to ensure safety is a top priority.
As Wilma’s founders and forever-friends continue carving the path for women entrepreneurs and business leaders, they prioritize the importance of learning and growing along with the launch and expansion of Wilma and its team.
The name Wilma is rooted in German and Dutch and means resolute protector. “Wilma was named after my late mother; as a former high school principal and single mother of five, she was the ultimate protector,” says Terri Phipps, Co-founder of Wilma, “At this stage in my career, I wasn’t anticipating becoming an entrepreneur and building an app, but I knew this was what I was meant to do. My mother used to tell me that no problem can withstand the assault of sustained effort and doing small things consistently can yield massive results. That’s what we’re doing here at Wilma – providing safety, building a community, and working piece by piece to make sure that our end goal, providing safety for women, drives our venture forward”.
You can become a Wilma driver or sign up to be a rider today! Wilma memberships can also be gifted to your loved ones, providing safety and peace of mind.
For more information go to www.getwilma.app