It all started at Riverbend.
Two guys were scooting around downtown Chattanooga in an electric golf cart during the music festival in 2018.
“Next thing we knew, people started asking us for rides,” says Aaron Murray.“This husband and wife were walking by. His wife looks at her husband and punches him right the arm, just Bam!. Socks him. And she says, ‘Give those kids $20 to give us a ride to the hotel.’ The hotel was not even 150 feet away.”
Chattywagon was born.
The business was founded in June 2018 by three young entrepreneurs—Alex Tyler, Aaron Murray and Sam Smith, all under the age of 24. Two are recent graduates (Tyler and Murray) and one (Smith) is a current student of UTC’s Gary W. Rollins College of Business.
The Chattywagon operates Monday through-Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m.-midnight. It covers the downtown area, traveling from North Shore to Southside. Riders simply request a ride on the Chattywagon app. The ride is free, but drivers accept tips. The business supports itself through advertising wraps located on the electric vehicle.
The trio’s plan was to help the community by getting people from one spot to another in downtown.
“Being able to offer a last-mile transportation option really helps people to move quickly and efficiently around town … in an eco-friendly, low-cost manner.” Says Murray.
The 100 percent electric vehicle can reach 25 mph and also has seatbelts and all the safety measures in place. This includes regular seats in your car, back-up cameras, rear view mirrors, and so on.
Murray says his time at UTC and the College of Business taught him a lot, but the most helpful courses were in accounting.
“Something has to do with accounting every hour, making sure things are going as planned and having a budget. That’s vital,” he says.
Murray and Tyler say they are amazed at how quickly Chattywagon has grown while, at the same time, they’re having “so much fun.” They hope to move into new cities and markets in the Tri-state area at the end of the summer.