DriverDX Helps Ontario's Bus Companies and Drivers Get Back to Work
August 17, 2021 (PRLEAP.COM) Technology NewsBarrie, ON - Angie Ricci has encountered sexism in many forms in the transportation/ motorcoach industry over the years.
She has endured small things like being told that cleaning buses was "her job" when interviewing a would-be bus driver. She has also endured much larger things like having to win a public hearing to prove that she deserved to run her own company.
Ricci didn't set out to become the only Canadian woman to build a motorcoach company from the ground up. She simply saw an opportunity to start a business that would shuttle people from Southern Ontario to Casino Rama. When she succeeded at that, she set her sights on her company (Angel Tours) expanding to other routes. But the industry's Old Boys Club wasn't ready to let her.
As a result, she had to make her case to The Ontario Highway Transport Board at an unprecedented live hearing.
"There was a live hearing where I had to prove that people wanted my bus service. It was the first hearing of this kind that The Ontario Highway Transport Board had ever experienced. I brought 300 witnesses to my hearing. I made my case, and I won."
Despite Ricci's victory in the year 2000, the transportation/motorcoach industry remains overwhelmingly male today. It's estimated that women currently make up:
It is even harder to recruit women to the private sector of the motorcoach industry, which echos an overall recruitment problem. Private companies can't offer the same attractive benefits packages, while they also can't pay a high wage because they have to keep costs down to win contracts. In many cases, these companies are charging operating rates that are over 20-years-old, and the drivers are the ones to suffer.
That's why Ricci is currently looking to parlay her experience in the industry into DriverDX, a software as a service (SaaS) offering that aims to help companies find drivers, while also helping drivers get back to work after the COVID-19 lockdown.
"Whenever something big happens to society, be it a pandemic or financial crisis, bus drivers always feel it first. They have to stay home because nobody is travelling," said Ricci.
"DriverDX can help them get back on their feet. It can also help them leverage unused licences by helping bus drivers find work in small trucks or in delivery. We can also help companies find drivers and help them address the dire staffing shortage happening across North America right now."
Launching DriverDX put Ricci in the familiar role of a woman entrepreneur trying to break into a predominantly male industry. Women still only account for about 37% of all Canadian entrepreneurs, and only about 13% of the entrepreneurs in the information technology sector.
Ricci added that she is once again encountering the same familiar issues getting funding, which is a problem that plagues all women entrepreneurs. TechBase recently reported that women-led startups received only 2.3% of all venture capitalist funding in 2020.
On the plus side, taking part in various entrepreneurial groups like The Sandbox Centre and the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre at Georgian College has finally given Ricci the chance to meet other women entrepreneurs and share experiences, which is something she didn't get to do 23 years ago.
"I didn't have any female mentors with Angel Tours because there were no females in the industry at the time. I just sort of learned as I went and hustled to make things happen."
"Today, I have young women asking me questions. It makes me realize that my contribution to their journey was something that I lacked on mine."
After 23 years of hiring and recruiting bus drivers, Angie Ricci used the pandemic lockdown as an opportunity to parlay her expertise into DriverDX. It is the only professional driver marketplace connecting professional drivers of buses, trucks and vans with carriers and companies who operate commercial vehicles.