Thursday, September 18, 2003

Miami U. students start taxi service

By Aaron Johnson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - Uptown Oxford will no longer be such a steep climb for Miami University students who would rather not hoof it all the way to High Street on a Saturday night.

Adam Hirsen, a junior accounting major, and Bryan Rood, a fifth-year communications major, are preparing their fleet of SUVs for the opening tonight of their first business venture, Uptown Taxi.

"We felt that it was pretty apparent that Oxford needed a taxi service, and it's an idea that we have been considering for a while," said Hirsen.

Miami University business professor Jeff June, who has begun many business ventures himself, thinks their business has the elements to prosper.

"If they're a group of hard-working individuals who are committed to doing it, I think it should be interesting to see where it goes," said June.

Hirsen and Rood have put time and effort into the start-up process since the conception of the business in June.

They spent freshman move-in week passing out business cards and have teamed up with local bars to advertise to their primary market, the late-night bar scene.

Patrons can use a pre-paid swipe card system, to which they can add money via the Internet.

The startup cost of the new business has been substantial - $10,000 to $12,000 for insurance, business licenses and office supplies. It's not clear when, or if, the students will turn a profit.

"It's a huge risk, but at the same time it's something that if we're going to take a risk (at doing) we wanted to do it now while we're still in school and had some money to play with," said Rood.

June said: "I wouldn't really say that the odds are against them greatly, but if they fail, I don't necessarily think that that's a bad thing. It's admirable that students are taking the initiative to start businesses."

Student response around campus has been positive.

"I think it would be a good idea," student Jerry Ficus said while dining at Skippers Pub, an uptown bar.

"I'm sure it would get used," added his roommate, Brett Lindstrom. "And I think that it would be a big moneymaker."

The costs: $4 for a single rider, $5 for a multi-person ride (as many as can fit), and $3 for an Uptown Taxi cardholder ride (as many as can fit).

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