Spotlight: GoSocial

by / Apr. 5, 2017 12am EST

If you live in the city of Buffalo, you might have noticed a new shuttle service zipping around town. GoSocial is a weekend shuttle service launched by Shawn A. Patterson, Adriana Lucia Gonzales-Vera, and Brandon Adler, and their plan is to offer rides to folks in the Elmwood, Allentown, and Chippewa areas for $10 per night. The service launched on St. Patrick’s Day after a couple of months of preparation and some conversations about the late-night transportation market in Buffalo, which is infamously devoid of ride-sharing at the moment.

After a few loose discussions about starting up some kind of transportation service, an opportunity arose.

“A friend of a friend was trying to sell some buses, and my friend knew we were toying with the idea of doing something like this, and he called me,” says Adler, one of the partners in the business and driver of the shuttle, as we sit at a local coffee shop sipping coffee after long night for the trio of upstart business people.

They tell me that the previous night was one of their best nights since officially launching earlier in the month. It was also one of the first non-holiday, non-promotional nights for them, which means it was a true test of their business plan.

“This weekend really proved the concept for us,” says Gonzales-Vera, who, along with her husband and business partner Patterson, are in charge of the marketing aspects of the business.

Brandon Adler, Shawn A. Patterson, Adriana Lucia Gonzales-Vera of GoSocial.

Right now, the team has two shuttles, though they only run one at a time, from 9pm to 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. $10 buys a wrist band that’s good for the entire night. The shuttle seats about 19 people.

A typical route starts at Mister Goodbar on Elmwood Avenue near Forest and heads south down Elmwood. They’ll stop at places like Milkie’s on Elmwood before going through Allentown, where they stop outside of Allen Street Poutine before heading toward Chippewa. When they loop around, they go through the West Side to Gypsy Parlor and sometimes Essex Street Pub before heading back to Elmwood.

The route isn’t set, necessarily. It’s loosely based on the aforementioned path, but if there are special events going on, they’ll cater to that, fitting in some extra or alternative stops. Right now, the whole route takes about 45 minutes, so if, for instance, you start at Goodbar, you can expect the bus to be back in that area within the hour to take you to your next destination along the route.

“As we evolve, we’re going to make the route more set,” says Gonzales-Vera. “We’re still feeling things out, we’re still feeling people out, and we’re still spreading the word. As we get bigger and we grow, it’s going to be ‘This is where we are and we wait for this amount of time.’ It’ll be a more streamlined loop.”

The whole business idea came about pretty quickly. The idea was only put forth in December. In January they bought the shuttles and by February they were taking private reservations.

St. Patrick’s Day was their public launch, and one of their first riders was Siobhan Taylor and 10 of her friends. Taylor follows GoSocial on Instagram and saw a post from them that day so she decided to contact them for a ride.

“It was kind of last minute,” she says.

That wasn’t a problem, she says, and later they caught the shuttle in Allentown on Cottage Street. Taylor and her friends went downtown to Chippewa. A couple hours later they contacted the shuttle again and took it from Chippewa to Savoy near Allentown.

“They actually checked in on us because at Savoy we ended staying there for a few hours. They texted me and asked if we wanted to be picked up again. It was nice that they hit us up to double-check on us when they didn’t hear from us.”

The experience was fun, she says.

“They played music on there. It was nice and roomy. So convenient, especially when you’re with a group of people and you don’t want to take four cars and everyone is splitting up. You don’t have to worry about drinking and driving or even parking. Ten of us were all able to hang out and travel from bar to bar together and crack up and drink.”

St. Patrick’s Day was a good weekend for the GoSocial team. Last weekend they ran a private shuttle, which had some pro football players from the Bills, Steelers, and Bengals. They were all going to Lasertron. From what they could gather on the ride home, it was a pretty aggressive game of Lasertron.

When GoSocial sat down to start strategizing the branding side of the business, they looked to Uber for inspiration.

“Uber was the first company that we thought of as far as ride-sharing. This isn’t necessarily a ride-sharing service, but we thought about how they went about the branding aspect of the company. We want to target this toward millennials. Social media is the way we communicate nowadays, so the whole concept of GoSocial was, let’s get on social media and build a community of riders and people that are going out. Let’s utilize Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to be able to serve that community and shuttle them around,” says Patterson.

They social aspect works on a few levels. First, as Patterson mentioned, riders utilize social media to alert the shuttle that they’re looking for a ride. At that point, Gonzales-Vera responds to let the potential riders know when they’ll be in the neighborhood. She’s usually on social media giving constant updates on where the shuttle is headed.

“At the same time, when people are in the bus, they’re socializing. We’ve had people who are from different groups—they end up talking and they end up going to the same spot,” says Gonzales-Vera.

“They’re meeting each other. We’re in the bus and we’re meeting different people, too. This is the City of Good Neighbors. Very community-oriented,” Patterson adds.

As they drive the route, Patterson and Gonzales-Vera have made the habit of jumping out at each stop and quickly popping into a closeby bar to let people know that they’re outside and spread the word about the service.

“We park at a spot for three or five minutes. We’ll go in and tell a couple groups of people, and even if they don’t hop on, they now know about it,” says Gonzales-Vera.

“It’s been a lot of work. No sleep on the weekends,” says Patterson. Last night, the team didn’t get home until 7am.

“It’s a long night but it’s well worth it. We’ve been meeting so many different people. It feels good to help people out, too,” says Patterson.

As they grow as a business, the GoSocial team wants to eventually expand their map to North Buffalo, South Buffalo, and maybe even the suburbs. Right now they have one bus on the road, but are aiming to have a second one on the road by the end of the month. The goal is to have the third one out by the end of the year. They also have plans to launch a Humans of New York-type blog.

If you’re thinking of taking the GoSocial shuttle, here’s what they recommend as your first step:

“Hit us up, Tweet at us, Facebook message, or Instagram,” says Gonzales-Vera. “We’re very responsive. You’ll hear from us within a couple of minutes.”

If you’d like to learn more about GoSocial, check out their launch party on May 19 at Expo Market.

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 Ride GoSo Launch Party 
 Friday, May 19 / 5PM — 8PM / Expo Market,  617 Main St, Buffalo