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Uride braces for David vs. Goliath battle with Uber in Kelowna

Let the battle begin.

Uride, the small Canadian ride-hailing company, is putting everything it has into challenging international juggernaut Uber, which is arriving soon in Kelowna.

"For sure, definitely, it's a David vs. Goliath story," said Uride founder and CEO Cody Ruberto.

"We're a small Canadian company and Uber is this $100 billion American company that dominates."

But, Uride, which has been offering rides in Kelowna for a little over a year, is up for the fight, according to Ruberto.

"People have been excited for and loyal to Uride since we started up here May 5, 2022," said Ruberto.

"We'll capitalize on that and make sure we continue to take care of our drivers and passengers. Quick pick up times and affordability are huge in this industry and we're going to continue to be quick and affordable and also improve. We're excited for this challenge. It's going to be interesting."

</who>Cody Ruberto is the founder and CEO of Uride.

It's not known exactly when Uber will launch in Kelowna.

The company is only saying "soon" after being granted permission this month by the BC Passenger Transportation to operate in Kelowna.

Uber was also granted permission to start up in Victoria and is already offering ride-hailing in Vancouver and 140 other cities across 9 provinces.

Uride operates in 14 cities in BC and Ontario -- Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Prince George, Vernon, Thunder Bay, North Bay, Chatham, Belleville, Sudbury, Timmins, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie and Prince Edward County.

Uride is also all set to launch in Penticton on June 2 and Medicine Hat and Grande Prairie soon.

</who>This photo was taken by Trevor Harris, who will start driving for Uride when the ride-hailing company launches in Penticton on June 2.

Uride's business model has always been to set up in smaller cities not served by Uber and underserved by taxis and public transit.

Uber coming into a city (Kelowna) where Uride already is is a first.

It's going to give riders options and turn up the competition to fierce.

"Definitely, we have to be ready for when Uber comes in," said Ruberto.

"We've been walking around downtown Kelowna with backpack Uride billboards and talking to people. We're hearing a lot from our passengers and they're happy with Uride and loyal and tell all their friends. We feel the whole city is behind us -- a huge force."

Ruperto is ultra-serious about the showdown in Kelowna.

This week he moved to Kelowna from his hometown of Thunder Bay, where he founded and launched Uride, to be on the ground here 24/7.

</who>Uride founder and CEO Cody Ruberto moved from Thunder Bay to Kelowna this week and will even do some driving here.

"We'll run the company from here (Kelowna) and I'll even drive myself," he said.

"It's actually my favourite part when I get to drive. That's when I get to talk to people and find out how loyal they are to Uride."

That may all be well and good.

However, the reality will likely be that passengers will have both apps on their phone -- Uride and Uber.

That way passengers can compare on the two apps and choose the quickest pick up and cheapest ride.

In fact, even though Uber hasn't yet launched in Kelowna, thousands of Kelowna resident probably already have the Uber app on their phone in anticipation and from using Uber in other cities across the country and around the world.

The same may happen with drivers.

Some drivers could decide to work for both Uride and Uber to pick up as much business as they can.

Even if existing Uride passengers in Kelowna stay loyal after Uber arrives, there's still the tourist factor.

People visiting Kelowna will likely be more familiar with Uber and likely have the app already on their phone.

Ruberto knows all of this will come into play as Uride and Uber duke it out in Kelowna.

However, Uride can counter it by building on the momentum and loyalty it already has in the city, continuing to be top-of-mind with advertising in hotels, bars and restaurants, banners at the airport and an underlying sentiment that passengers might want to support a small Canadian company rather than a faceless giant.

Uride was planning on launching soon in Victoria when Uber received the OK to open there, too.

"We'll make a decision shortly about Victoria," said Ruberto.

"We have to determine if we want to battle with Uber in Victoria when we aren't even in Victoria yet."

Ruberto started Uride in Thunder Bay in 2017 and it expanded from there.

Interesting fact, as Uride grew, he also played three seasons, 2019-21, of professional soccer with Cefn Druids in the Cymru North Wales League.

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