Collaborative Pioneer: Inside Interview with David Mahfouda at Bandwagon

Headshot1BWDavid Mahfouda is the CEO of Bandwagon, designing the future of collaborative transportation.

1. We know you were inspired by travels abroad! What about these experiences planted the seed for Bandwagon?

The trip can be the destination! I was traveling by train across Russia, Mongolia, and China with three friends in 2006, and funny as it sounds, the real place we were headed was the train itself! We read whole books, played cards, explored nearby compartments, and watched the landscape move. We designed Bandwagon with that feeling in mind. We’re making the ride a social experience, a destination unto itself!

2. In your recent Fast Company article, you said, “We’re making it easier and less expensive to be carless.” What do you think the future of transportation looks like 10 years down the road?

Down the road… nice pun. Ten years down the road, I think we’ll see a real proliferation of the technologies we’re just beginning to experience now: mobile taxi/car ordering and tracking like Hailo and Lyft, with two key additions:

1. These technologies are going to be very significant for baby-boomers (and consequently, for suburban communities), who will be the next huge segment of the population to give up their vehicles after Gen X and Millennials.

2. New levels of efficiency will be gained from passenger-to-passenger coordination (such as Bandwagon) but also vehicle-to-vehicle communication (also such as Bandwagon)! This makes ordering a car more like planning a trip on public transportation — you’ll actually get routed through a few cars to get to where you’re going!

3. Bandwagon actually works within the current transportation regulations—no easy feat for collaborative consumption companies! What industry regulation would you most like to see changed?

Thanks! Working with regulators is something we’re proud of — creating incentives for all industry stakeholders is central to creating a good product and a great community. The regulation we’d most like to see added is compensation for drivers who are contributing to a green, socially responsible initiative. In turn, that also builds capacity and cuts down passenger wait time at LaGuardia Airport.

Regulators have been getting slammed by collaborative consumption advocates, but the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission is really forward-thinking and dynamic for a government agency. We’ve been working with David Yassky and Cindi Davidson at the NYCT&LC on regulations that will make it easier for passengers to pay for shared rides, and also create an economic incentive for drivers to offer shared rides.

4. This isn’t your first time as a collaborative consumption founder—tell us a little about Fixers Collective and how that paved the road for Bandwagon.

Fixers Collective is now a twice monthly meeting where people get together to fix things… that’s it! It developed a whole new social ritual built up around repair. Repair is actually one of the major drivers behind what we’re doing at Bandwagon as well. We’re creating social infrastructure that’s essentially a fix over our existing road-car network. Ridesharing with Bandwagon makes cars more efficient, and it also repairs much of the measurable social damage that single occupancy vehicles have done to American cities and communities.

5. You often talk about cities as a source of passion and inspiration. What is it about cities that drives you?

So here’s a crazy answer: dependency. I just took a walk around the block, and I tried to boil down all of the things that are great about cities: that we build them together, that they outlast us, that they’re fun and dynamic, efficient etc. But the thing that makes all of this possible (and powerful) is the extent to which we purposefully allow ourselves to depend on others for almost everything: my food is grown by other people, (it’s even often cooked by other people!), I live in an apartment that I share with other people, I ride the subway (and in Bandwagons!) with other people. That’s the gambit that makes cities so powerful: If we allow ourselves to depend on other people, to trust other people, collectively we can do more with less. That’s kind of the bottom line for collaborative consumption, no? For humanity even.


David Mahfouda is the CEO of Bandwagon. David graduated from Harvard’s Visual and Environmental Studies program in 2005. After graduating, David co-founded the Very Polite Movers, a successful Brooklyn-based furniture moving cooperative. David went on to earn his master’s degree, studying Product Architecture and Engineering at Stevens Institute, where he modelled what would become the basis for Bandwagon — a dynamic transportation system initially entitled Modular Node Based Public Road Transportation on Digital Infrastructure (MNBPRTODI). David has since become a pioneer of the networked-vehicle industry, having been invited to speak about new technology and transit at institutions and conferences including the USDOT, The Open Planning Project, The Green Space, Portland State University, Transportation Transformation, Advanced Energy 2012, and Parsons School of Design. He has also been a member of EyeBeam’s Sustainability and Urban Research steering committees. David is currently the project manager of two successful NYSERDA Advanced Transportation contracts. He is also the co-founder of the Fixers Collective, a growing New York based social movement dedicated to the care and restoration of broken things.

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