Facedrive: Using technology to combat the impact of COVID-19
Facedrive is a publicly traded Canadian tech company rooted in environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.
Originally founded as a green rideshare operator in 2016, Facedrive has grown to become an ecosystem comprising five divisions, namely TaaS, Food Delivery, Health, Marketplace and Social, aimed at combatting the impact of COVID-19 through technological innovation and navigating the new post-pandemic world.
In January 2020, Facedrive was ambitiously pursuing growth and expansion of its eco-friendly rideshare business. With daily requested rides averaging 1,400 and over 3,200 trees planted in 2019, the service was gaining popularity among local residents, particularly the young and environmentally conscious demographic.
Facedrive was working tirelessly at scaling up its platform, having launched operations in multiple cities across Ontario – including Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, London, and Kitchener-Waterloo – and preparing to extend their carbon-friendly offering into new geographies in Canada as well as enter the U.S. market. Fast-forward to February 2020 and COVID-19 had started spreading across the globe. Countries were considering shutting down borders and issuing stay-at-home orders.
“Initially, we all thought this was going to be short lived, so Facedrive continued to focus on expanding into new cities with the rideshare platform,” said Sayan Navaratnam, chairman of the board and CEO of Facedrive. “By April 2020, it was apparent that COVID-19 was not going anywhere, and we had to rethink our approach and the future of Facedrive.”
Today, Facedrive has diversified into five verticals, all rooted in ESG principles, to respond to communities’ evolving needs: TaaS, Food Delivery, Health, Marketplace and Social.
“We all have a role to play in the fight against COVID and in helping economies recover once this fight is won. As a technology company committed to social responsibility, we wanted to do our part by using technology expertise to contribute in a meaningful way,” added Sayan Navaratnam.
Facedrive, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, developed the proprietary TraceSCAN contact tracing solution leveraging wearable Bluetooth technology to support essential businesses staying open during the pandemic and keeping their employees safe.
There have been some bumps along the way. Some of the biggest pain points the company reported facing in the early days were concerns over user privacy.
“Our team spends a lot of time reassuring clients that TraceSCAN doesn’t track a user’s location or collect any personal information. But once an organization has to deal with identifying potential spread from a COVID case, they immediately see the benefit that our solution brings in quickly and accurately identifying individuals who should consider isolating and testing,” says Suman Pushparajah, COO of Facedrive.
Currently, TraceSCAN has been successfully implemented at a number of companies like Air Canada, Riverside Foods and Yamaha Motors. TraceSCAN has also been adopted by Waywayseecappo, an Alberta First Nation community. It is also in POC phase at several companies in Canada and globally.
In September 2020, Facedrive acquired Washington, D.C.-based Steer from Exelorate Enterprises LLC, an Exelon subsidiary. Steer is a technology-driven monthly vehicle subscription service that presents a hassle-free, low-emissions alternative to owning, leasing or renting vehicles. The direct synergies between Steer’s EV subscription service and the original Facedrive Rideshare are clear as both target environmentally conscious consumers.
Facedrive fought to get scale initially when it entered into the food delivery sector in early 2020, but was bolstered by the acquisition foodora Canada assets as they were exiting the Canadian market in May 2020. At the same time, FoodHWY, an ethnic food delivery company, had shown an interest and in October 2020 became part of the Facedrive family. Currently, Facedrive Foods operates in 19 Canadian cities, with 4,600+ restaurant partners averaging 4,600 orders a day, and with expansion plans to other cities in Canada and the U.S. anticipated soon. Facedrive Foods focuses on connecting users to authentic ethnic food while also helping small businesses to remain open.