He took on Lyft and Uber with a brand-new ride-hailing service based in Boston. Kirill Evdakov and his Russian colleagues founded Fasten, and they offered estimated fares shown to riders in real-time, provided higher percentages for their drivers, and did it without the surge pricing which Lyft and Uber embrace. They did well enough that they were able to open their 123 Beach Street, Boston Driver’s Lounge and step into Austin, Texas when other services pulled out due to a dispute over regulations. When Lyft and Uber returned, Evdakov and his colleagues ultimately failed, and Fasten disappeared.
Before Fasten, Kirill Evdakov was the creative director of Rutorika Digital Agency.
The app development company is based in Russia, and lists a Boston, Massachusetts address as well on its website. The website displays a portfolio of websites, ad campaigns, animation, and apps. Included in the apps are the Fasten app. The website category includes diverse clients such as Beton Brut, a four-star hotel located on the Black Sea coast and Zhemchuzhina Rossii summer camp for children-one of the biggest recreation and health complexes in Russia. The add campaigns included a promotional site for KIA Sportage Limited Edition and photo contest website Zimnie Kanikuli. The company’s animation projects have been diverse as well. The portfolio includes colorful banners for Mojito Fresh and an Ochakovo New Year greeting card. The apps developed by the creative team include those for Fasten and Bighead.
Evdakov and his colleagues began Fasten with funds of $9.2 million.
When Fasten first located in Boston, the local press described the company as “mysterious”. The company set up business at 745 Atlantic Avenue, as a corporation incorporated in Delaware. The year of incorporation was 2014. The company filed Form D with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, listing Evdakov as Minority Shareholder, Director, Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board. He and his two partners, Evgeny Lvov and Roman Levitskiy were all listed as from the Russian Federation, with all three having Russian addresses. The Majority Shareholder, Lvov, was listed as Director; another Minority Shareholder, Levitskiy was listed as the Executive Officer and Director. At the time of the SEC filing, a total of 6 investors had offered up $9,150,000 USD, with a minimum investment accepted from any outside investor listed as $100,000 USD.
Evdakov had been in ridesharing in Russia and Eastern Europe for six years before starting Fasten.
He believed that Fasten’s goals of serving drivers and riders better was based on the desire to change the multi-billion-dollar industry which he viewed as “completely mistreating drivers”. He hoped to create a different work model, where drivers would make more money and riders would play less for each ride. Fasten also implemented a higher standard, whereby cars would only be accepted if they were 2005 models or newer.
Evdakov told KXAN news that Fasten would be in Austin forever.
Unfortunately, the news article compared the work of non-profit RideAustin with Fasten and other companies. RideAustin had made significant inroads within the community by partnering with other non-profit organizations to both promote their own efforts and ridesharing. The community effort helped to solidify RideAustin within the ridesharing community. Eventually Uber and Lyft returned to Austin and forced smaller companies out. This included Fasten, and Evdakov’s prediction failed.
Evdakov told The Austin Chronicle that Fasten would “continue on” powering the Russian ridesharing market.
He told the press that he was proud of Fasten’s mission to put people first. He also indicated that he was proud of their product, and that it would exist in a “different incarnation” with a key international player. The press reported that the Fasten departure had shocked riders who appreciated and depended on its presence in East Austin.
Evdakov has 36 books listed on Goodreads.
Perhaps most telling of all is his 2014 “Wants to Read” post of the book by Noam Wasserman. It’s title? The Founder’s Dilemnas – Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup from The Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Evdakov has 45 friends on Goodreads. Evdakov gave Brave New World by Aldous Huxley a five-star rating. He rated another Huxley book, The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell a three-star rating. He’s followed several authors as well; such as, Julio Cortázar, and Carlos Castaneda. He’s read and rated Castaneda’s Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, and The Wheel of Time: The Shamans of Mexico Their Thoughts About Life, Death, & the Universe. His favorite authors are listed as Stephen Fry, J.R.R. Tolkien, Castaneda and Julio Cortáza.
Evdakov said that Fasten opened The Fasten Drivers’ Lounge for drivers to relax and recharge.
It was the first ever of its kind, and it opened in Boston. The dedicated lounge provided a place for drivers to meet each other, to share driver’s tips, and have a place where employees could enjoy a bit of downtime.
Evdakov responded to President Trump’s suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program with a public statement.
Concerning Trump’s executive order; Evdakov stated that national origins, religions, or political viewpoints should not divide people in such a way that they no longer are capable of seeing each other as human beings. Evdakov noted that Fasten would match all riders tips and donate 100% of these proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Evdakov described David A. Price’s book, The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company, as being about: "obstacles don’t matter if you choose to be an entrepreneur".
For Evdakov, this book illustrates the importance of tenacity in any endeavor. He referenced the book for learning how to have bigger dreams, which always come with bigger obstacles, and for modeling the persistence of Ed Catmull. Ed Catmull developed the technology which allowed 3D animation to come alive. Catmull built his technology from scratch, and then went on to convince his colleagues that his technology would make a difference. Evdakov believed that the type of persistence which Catmull exemplified was integral to Fasten’s successful growth to earning 60% of the market share during the time it provided ride-sharing in Austin, Texas.
On March 3, 2018, Evdakov posted the "Goodbye from Fasten & Thank You" on the company blog.
The blog post was addressed to the Fasten community, and noted that as of 12:00 am on Monday, March 5, all Fasten operations in Boston and Austin, Texas would be shut down. The company had agreed that Vezet Group, a global top-ten ride-hailing company would be acquiring Fasten. The brand and technologies developed by Fasten would be used internationally, but U.S. operations would be frozen. Evdakov and his Co-founder Roman Levitski wanted their soon-to-be-former customers to know that they had created Fasten to effect change within the ride-hailing industry. They wanted to help drivers earn more and to give riders cheaper rides and better ride choices. They noted that Fasten had provided more than 5 million rides during its U.S. operations. They reminded riders to continue to make conscious choices about riders, drivers, and rideshare companies manner of treating “their people”. They noted their pride in the product they had built and expressed gratitude to their customers for three years of “tremendous support”.
Written by Garrett Parker
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