For Diego Arteaga, general manager of Alto rideshare in Miami, assembling an all-FIU management team was a stroke of serendipity.
“When I was interviewing candidates to build out my team, FIU grads were consistently the most talented, well-prepared and passionate people I found,” Arteaga says. “It’s amazing to me that although they all hail from different backgrounds and majored in different fields, all were incredibly prepared to take on the unique challenges of a startup.”
Alto’s executive team consists of Arteaga ’13 (BA in Int’l Relations/Entrepreneurship Development), Marketing Manager Andrea Arbelaez ’16 (BBA, Marketing), Area Business Development Manager John Serrano ’07 (BBA, Business Management, Marketing and Related Support Services), Human Resources Generalist Luzzette Cabral ’18 (BBA, Human Resources Management) and Director of Operations Christian Guzman ’17 (BBA; Marketing)
An entrepreneur at heart, Arteaga opened a branch of Alto rideshare in Miami when he saw a need for a safer, more customer-focused ride-share option.
“We live in an ‘in-demand’ world where people now expect everything from food, medicine, and all kinds of services to come to them at their convenience,” says Arteaga, whose team recently participated in a StartUP FIU event discussing transportation in modern cities. “Alto offers customers a reliable, safe and upgraded transit experience no matter where they need to go.”
The Alto experience begins with its company-owned and elegantly branded fleet driven by professionals who are not contractors, but rather employees of the company. All drivers must pass extensive background and motor vehicle safety checks and are paid regardless of whether they pick up passengers. Other Alto perks include personalizing your ride with music or Do Not Disturb options; pre-scheduled rides; and a waiting period of 30 minutes, allowing customers to finish their shopping or restaurant experience without rushing to get to their vehicle.
Focusing on professional riders eager to take their clients to lunch in style, enjoy a stress-free ladies’ night or ferry the kids to and from school, Arteaga and his team are using niche marketing and strategic partnerships to increase their market share.
“By implementing a mix of traditional word-of-mouth marketing, working with hyper-local social media influencers and delivering a quality customer experience, we’ve seen our impact in Miami grow,” says Arteaga, who has also partnered with Mercedes Benz of Coral Gables and other high-end dealerships to provide users with a seamless introduction to their brand.
Arteaga credits a large part of Alto’s success in Miami to the skills he and his executive team learned at their alma mater, recalling that FIU consistently pushed students to do their research, keep an open mind and develop the self-confidence to tackle any task.
“Diego was always a self-motivated, disciplined and intellectually curious student,” says his favorite professor Astrid Arraras of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. “I always knew that he would have a successful professional career. It is a real pleasure to teach students like him.”
“I remember a professor telling me, ‘If you want to understand the world, you need to understand different perspectives.’ This helps keep the customer’s needs and wants at the forefront,” says Arteaga, who feels that many startups fail because they don’t do enough market research to truly understand how to best serve their customer base.
— By Irene Ferradaz