NTC Awards hytch

The Nashville Technology Council (NTC) on Thursday night named a local ride-sharing company its Emerging Company of the year.

Hytch, a soon-to-launch ride-sharing app created by Williamson County entrepreneur Mark Cleveland (second from left in above photo), beat out two other finalists for the Emerging Company award. The 9th Annual Awards were at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville.

Hytch plans to incentivize people to carpool by paying them for riding together.

“Winning this means everything, particularly right now when we are about to launch a  revolution, with our app, in the way people view incentives and rewards for improving traffic conditions for everybody,” Cleveland said. “We are thrilled that the NTC recognized a company focused on using technology to reduce congestion.”

Hytch’s core concept, to pay people to carpool, is simple. But the idea of combining the technology of a smartphone application to attack a problem like traffic is what made it stand out above other finalists.

‘It is an extremely innovative idea,” Brian Moyer, president and CEO of the NTC, said. “It is one of those things you hear about and think, ‘Man, why didn’t I think of that?'”

He said the company’s innovation was what won it the award, rather than its focus on traffic reduction.

“Traffic and transit is maybe the most talked about topic right now in Nashville,” Moyer said. “I don’t know that there is a single silver bullet solution for all our traffic woes. It is a puzzle to put together, and certainly the technology that Hytch has developed is a piece of that. It is brilliant.”

Hytch will officially launch on February 9th and is encouraging people sign up early.

They will be promoting a Valentine’s Day push in Middle Tennessee.

“We are expecting Valentine’s Day to be our coming out party here,” Cleveland said. “We hope to reward more shared rides than ever before. It is a great way to say, ‘Love the people you are with and love your city.'”

Cleveland said his biggest goal is to hopefully make traffic, and thus life, better for everyone who uses the app.

“Life is better when we ride together,” he said. “We are paying people to share rides from Murfreesboro to Mt. Juliet, from Spring Hill to Nashville.”