In a land where driving reigns, filling up is never far from Miamians’ minds.
Now, the tech world is descending on South Florida to help ease the burden, bringing apps that make getting gas easier—and lining pumpers’ wallets.
The fastest-growing among them is GetUpside. It’s an app that allows drivers to earn $1 or $2 in cash every time they go to the pump at gas stations that have partnered with GetUpside. (The company has signed up about 1,500 stations in Florida).
A couple bucks may not seem like much—but as Ana Jarquin discovered, it all adds up. A few months after signing up for GetUpside, she had $100 in rebates banked in her PayPal account.
“I started in January—and by April I realized it had started accumulating,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wait, this is pretty decent.’”
Jarquin, who owns a heating and air-condition business with her husband in Pembroke Pines, heard about GetUpside on a local radio station. She says she is skeptical of most things she hears about on the radio, but the fact that GetUpside seemed to offer gas savings resonated. She soon realized she would also get a few cents deposited into her account after friends she had recommended filled up.
Since the beginning of the year, thanks to the app, she has earned about $300. Her husband and son have also saved amounts totaling more than $100. At the same time, the cost of fuel in Miami has climbed about $0.20 to nearly $2.90, according to GasBuddy, a website that tracks gas prices.
GetUpside is the brainchild of two former Google engineers who realized local brick-and-mortar businesses were sitting on top of a gold mine of customer data — especially information about which customers are regulars and which ones are new. With GetUpside, retail merchants can see how either category is growing.
The value of that information resonated with Maximo Ricardo Alvarez, who has been in the gas business for more than 30 years. As vice president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, Inc., which manages more than 300 gas stations up and down southeast Florida, he has seen every conceivable customer rewards program. Few seemed worth the effort, he said.
GetUpside was different.
“I grilled them to no end,” Alvarez said. “They had a counter for every argument I had.”
His return on investment has been significant: He says he sees between 20 and 40 cents on every dollar he spends on the service, which allows him to create a separate loyalty program fund whose profits are split between him, the pumper, and GetUpside.
Though based in Washington DC, the GetUpside team has made South Florida its launch-pad market, joining several other gas-centric apps. The company says approximately 350,000 Floridians have created GetUpside accounts.
“People in South Florida drive a lot,” said co-founder Wayne Lin. “There’s not necessarily great public transportation, and the distances people drive can be fairly vast. So it’s just a place where a lot of people need gas.”
GetUpside is the latest tech company to take advantage of South Florida’s driving addiction.
Miami-based Neighborhood Fuel, created by local entrepreneur Jorge Camaraza Jr. , dispatches tankers to your office to fill your car while you work, for the same price as if you were pumping yourself. It now services employees of companies including Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Ryder and World Fuel Services, though Camaraza declined to say how many individual users tap the Neighborhood Fuel app. Neighborhood Fuel makes money buying gas wholesale and selling it retail.
The company raised $2 million from SoftBank in March and is now seeking additional investment. In the past five months, Neighborhood Fuels has added 11 new employees.
One advantage: in the event of a hurricane, users get gas before it’s delivered to stations. “People value convenience, as long as you don’t break the bank,” Camaraza said. “As long as someone else can bring you the service or task, there’s no added value in your pumping your own gas.”
Car rental group Enterprise Holdings said it uses Neighborhood Fuel to gas up rental vehicles on-site at its Alamo Port Everglades location.
“[We] have found it to be a useful service,” Kathryn Bowring, a spokesperson for the company, said in an email.
While Neighborhood Fuel is targeting employers, New York City-based GasMob is courting residents. Founded just four months ago, it too chose South Florida as one of its initial markets. (The other is Houston.)
Co-founder Adam Cooper says both cities feature sprawling residential development, much of which is managed by regional or property companies. Through them, he can pitch the service to individual housing developments and subdivisions.
“We use their portfolios as leverage, without having to market ourselves,” he said.
GasMob’s most prominent property in South Florida is the Blue and Green Diamond condo complex in Miami Beach. The company is in talks with Diamond’s property management firm, FirstService Residential, to add GasMob as an amenity to residents at other buildings as well. Like Neighborhood Fuel, the company makes money on the spread between buying wholesale and selling retail.
“Managers love it, residents love it, and because of that we are looking at a company-wide relationship where endorse it for rest of our communities,” said FirstService Residential spokesperson Lillian Guerrer.
While GasMob are Neighborhood Fuel work to increase their footprints, drivers like John Little are turning to GetUpside. A divorced dad with three kids, Little looks for savings wherever he can get them. He heard about GetUpside at work about six months ago, and has so far earned more than $150.
“I wish a couple more gas stations were participating,” he said. “Now it’s got you looking [for participating stations].”