About a month ago I saw a post on Facebook from a woman recruiting drivers to a new car service called Tryp. What caught my eye was the claim that drivers would get to keep 100% of the fare. She said to contact her for more information, so I did.
She wrote back right away and said:
“Hello, there’s a New Ride Share Launching In December. Drivers will keep 100% of the ride share fares on every ride and earn tips at 100%. I’m inviting you to attend the FREE TRYP Webinar and new business model overview of the ride share company. Drivers have potential to become 6 figure earners in just a few months on the platform. This is invite only as the opportunity is exclusively for the business minded elite driver, TRYP webinar @12PM est. @3PM est. @ 6PM est. @9PM”
The words I put in bold were words that stood out to me as having an all-too familiar ring. They reminded me of a pitch I heard a few years ago from a college buddy who was hitting me up to join an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) he had just joined. He said he was making great money and he thought I had just what it took to be successful at it.
Most MLM companies make similar pitches, and I’ve noticed a few trends between each one. They promote three areas:
1. Having What it Takes
When the woman from Tryp said the new rideshare company was looking for business-minded elite drivers – that sounds a lot like my friend telling me he thought I have what it takes. Of course pretty much any company could say that but that in conjunction with other key phrases that are so typical of MLM pitches, added to my suspicions.
2. A New Business Model
Companies that operate multi-level marketing schemes love to tell prospects that they are a “new” business model. Obviously, MLM isn’t a new business model but it’s kind of their way of saying if you’ve been burned by MLMs in the past, then don’t worry about it because this is something new and different. Of course the MLMs that burned you in the past said the same thing when you first signed on!
When the woman from Tryp said that drivers have the potential to become six-figure earners in just a few short months, alarm bells started ringing in my head! Any company that promises you more than $100,000 in just a few months from performing unskilled work must be suspected of over promising. They may not be overpromising but they must be suspected of it until proven otherwise.
3. Exclusive Opportunity
One key element of the typical MLM sales pitch is exclusivity. They try to make you feel like they are giving you a special honor by inviting you to join because it is so exclusive, very few people get invited. Only the top people. You know… the people who have what it takes! People just like you.
In the case of Tryp Rideshare, they’re making drivers feel really special by telling them this innovative, exclusive rideshare app is invite-only. You can’t even see their Facebook page unless you’re invited. Indeed, when you try to join their FB page, they ask who referred you. If you’re not able to give the right name, you won’t be able to join in.
The thing that made me feel a little un-special, though, is that I was invited before they knew anything about me at all. It seemed they were “inviting” anyone and everyone who wanted an invitation! They didn’t even bother to ask for any evidence that I was an actual rideshare driver. The mere fact that I had inquired, made me eligible for an invitation. Now that’s exclusive!
What Tryp Promises Drivers
Tryp is promising drivers that they will be paid 100% of the fares for every trip they take. It is also promising them a stock option incentive plan. That’s the information they give on their website. What’s not visible on their website is the whole MLM scheme that they have setup to recruit drivers and get drivers to recruit other drivers.
What they’re telling drivers on social media, away from view on their website, is if they recruit three more drivers under them and all drivers pay a $399 upfront fee plus $200 per month, they will be allowed to earn a weekly residual income.
It’s also promising them they have the potential to earn in the six figures (after just six months) by recruiting other drivers and riders onto the platform. The drivers they recruit have to pay a $200 monthly fee for the right to drive and each person in the line above them (known in the MLM space as an “upline”) will receive a cut of their payment as their commission for bringing them on.
With money this good, why would any Lyft, Via, Postmates or Uber driver not give them at least a chance?
They have two groups of recruits. One, they call “drivers” and the other they call “influencers”.
The influencers can pay a $149 annual fee and have the ability to earn residual incomes off of any drivers they recruit. As I was told by one of the influencers who was trying to recruit me, influencers “get the referral bonus and residual income on every driver in their organization. This type of recruiting appears to me to fall in line with a classic MLM.
Influencers get a bonus and residual income from driver referrals; for every driver they recruit directly and from every driver the drivers they brought in recruit. The odd thing is I couldn’t find any mention of any of this on their website.
Tryp communicates with drivers in large part online. I was contacted through Facebook and when I asked any questions, like how drivers will be kept busy when they don’t have any customers yet, I was always referred to a webinar conducted by Bishop Stewart. I had no idea who Bishop Stewart was, I’ve never heard of him but the girl who was referring me talked about him on a first-name basis and as if they were good buddies. She made me feel as if I was supposed to know who he was! But I didn’t.
I was finally able to see him in action after several glitch-filled attempts to join their Facebook page. And I found out that Bishop is an articulate and very charismatic man. You can see why drivers are excited about working under him. He has the air of someone who’s going places.
His webinars are very well attended, generating upwards of 1,000 viewers per episode. It’s hard to tell, though, if they’re well-attended because people genuinely want to be there or if it’s because they’re desperate to get problems resolved.
A large number of questions were about different issues recruits were having. Issues included people who weren’t getting paid, couldn’t get responses from Tryp support and couldn’t sign up or couldn’t get members of their downline signed up. Many people mentioned that they had tried to contact Tryp support but hadn’t gotten any response… some had waited more than a week. As Bishop tackles the issues one-by-one it becomes evident that he is worn out trying to resolve so many problems. He even admits to as much during the webinars. He then earnestly pleads with people to go through regular support channels before they contact him. He often mentions that he’s working impossibly long hours.
He works for Tryp and is in the top echelon of company leaders, so these driver-recruits feel honored to get to speak to him. You get a real sense that in a lot of cases they’re really holding back expressing the true intensity of their frustrations out of respect and deference to Bishop.
So, What’s the Problem with Tryp?
There are numerous problems and drivers should be very leery of spending any money with them right now. First and foremost they’re taking $400 payments from drivers in exchange for a promise to give drivers commission-free business – which would theoretically give them 25% higher earnings than they can make with Uber or Lyft. But they don’t even have a rider or driver app yet! Nor do they have any customers yet.
Let that sink in… at the moment, there appears to be no Tryp app, but they’re still asking you to pay money.
I believe drivers are taking a real risk forking over so much money to a company that so far is really nothing more than a website and a social media presence. My best advice is, at least wait until they do something real before investing your very real and hard-earned money with them.
Another problem area is that there are two faces to Tryp. One is the face presented through their website and the other is a completely different face that drivers see on social media. The bizarre thing is that what they promote most through social media (the MLM aspects of the business) isn’t mentioned at all on their website.
The problem boils down to the problem that plagues all MLM schemes. In the end, they’re not nearly as interested in selling a real product (trips, in this case) as they are in recruiting new people to pay the $200 monthly fee for the privilege of being allowed to sell the product. For the privilege to sell a product that doesn’t exist yet. And a product that no one from Tryp is really pushing anyone to sell. Rather, all the talk on the Facebook webinars is not about recruiting passengers to utilize the service but it’s about recruiting more and more drivers.
With each driver/influencer signing up and paying nearly $400 to sign up plus $200 a month – they show more interest in social media on increasing that aspect of the business than they do in getting business for their planned rideshare service. Recruiting drivers who pay to drive is a great business for them. Two hundred dollars a month is a lot more than the average Uber customer spends with Uber in a month. But it’s not a good deal for drivers as it appears unlikely there will be any business to keep them busy.
While drivers are being asked now to pay $200 a month for the ability to drive for Tryp, Tryp has done nothing to show drivers they actually have any business that will keep drivers busy.
If I were going to pay $200 a month to a ride-hailing company to get top-paying for trips, I would think a legitimate company would give me the first month free so I could check it out and make sure they could actually keep me busy. But if a company has no trips, they’re not likely to do that.
Tryp is not offering drivers any period for free so they can check it out. Smart drivers will ask themselves why. Because it’s a given that if a company like Tryp could actually keep drivers busy, they would need no army of recruiters – drivers would be banging their doors down to get in! But Tryp needs an army of recruiters and the amazing thing is – they’re making the recruiters pay them for the privilege.
Tryp is accepting payments from drivers now before they even have an app. I’m not sure why any driver would pay that much money in advance for access to an unproven concept.
If you think I’m just speculating when I say they’re more interested in recruiting drivers willing to pay them $200-a-month than they are in actually signing up passengers to use the service, then check out the words of Bishop Stewart from his December 29, 2018 webinar where he said:
“So, anyway. So, back to what I was saying… you’re gonna have way more people that are qualified to get driving accounts and also you’re gonna have people that didn’t wanna be a driver before or setup a driving account that now are gonna wanna do that. Because they’re gonna realize, wait a minute, I could actually build this as a business now on the side as well without me actually having to drive.”
You see? He’s actually promoting the idea that drivers can make more money recruiting other drivers than they can by driving. He’s suggesting to drivers that if they work hard and do things right – they won’t even have to drive!
So you have a rideshare company discouraging drivers from wanting to drive. That’s an interesting way to run a rideshare company. Unless of course the “rideshare” part is just a ruse to cover for the fact that the real business of the company is as an Multi-Level Marketing company where they don’t really care if they ever give a ride as long as they have thousands of people recruiting tens of thousands of other people who are all going to pay them a couple of hundred dollars a month.
From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that the recruiters are actually the company’s primary customers. The rideshare service they are supposedly running is really just a guise that they can show to governmental authorities as the product they sell to help them meet the technical definition of a legal MLM. But in reality the legal requirement that an MLM must sell a real product or service is met in name only. The reality on the ground is that everyone involved in the company is focused on recruiting new recruiters who will pay $200.
Lest you think I’m going overboard in criticizing the MLM business model, Bishop Stewart had some fairly critical words for them himself a few years ago (2015).
During an interview he was asked why he chose “dropshipping” as his business blueprint, and he said…
“When I first came online, like a lot of other people I thought I was going to come on and dominate the internet and make a bunch of money right away. And I would buy a course just to realize I had to spend even more money to make that system or that strategy work. And a lot of things just really weren’t working for me. And I said you know there has to be something out here that’s proven and that’s solid and doesn’t require a lot of overhead to operate. And another friend of mine who’s a great internet entrepreneur as well started talking to me about some of these strategies with drop-shipping and I met a guy who’s a top-tier shipper with drop-shipping which means he’s made multiple-millions of dollars with drop-shipping. And I started looking into it and I started realizing that the beautiful thing about drop-shipping is that it doesn’t require a website like a lot of other strategies online. It doesn’t require a big list already. I didn’t have to go out and recruit people like some of the other systems out there online.”
So, he was (rightly) turned off by businesses where you have to go out and recruit people. Yet that’s exactly what Tryp is doing.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE TO MAKE MONEY WITH TRYP
You can join Tryp as simply a driver who will not make any money on recruiting new members. Or you can sign up as a driver/influencer – who will theoretically make money on driving and recruiting. Or you can sign up only as an influencer/recruiter. In other words they’re just as happy (probably happier) to have you as an “influencer” who brings on new $200-per-month paying customers (called “drivers” or “influencers”) who do nothing more than bring in more new people! If they never have a passenger who takes a trip – they’ll do just fine from all the were-supposed-to-be-drivers who will be paying them $200 a month.
Who is Behind Tryp?
The influencers/recruiters who are currently out selling the concept are quick to point out that the company has real stature because their founder and CEO is none other than Robert J. McNulty who once was the CEO of Shopping.com. Shopping.com is of course a forgotten company because it doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, McNulty has founded numerous companies – none of which exist anymore.
That could be okay because a lot of business leaders have had failures in their lives and that doesn’t stop them from learning from their mistakes and coming back stronger than ever in the future. But, McNulty’s history is strewn with a worrying trail of illegal and shady dealings.
For instance, there’s this filing by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1995 that accused him of all kinds of wrong doings and misdeeds. An excerpt from this SEC filing says:
“In a complaint filed by the Commission on September 30, 1994, McNulty was charged with orchestrating a complex scheme to defraud investors by using the proceeds of securities offerings by HQOS, HQOI, Auto Giant and Auto Depot to finance the operations of affiliated companies and the companies’ underwriter and market maker, Global America, Inc., rather than for the stated purpose of funding the issuers’ operations.”
While the details of this case are a bit complex, just note that he was charged with a scheme to defraud investors. And right now his new company, Tryp, is asking drivers to invest a $400 one-time startup fee plus $200 a month – with no app, no customers and no demonstrable track record. If I were to guess, I’d say McNulty is up to his old tricks, just dressed up in a little fancier dress.
A blogger has kept track of McNulty’s misdeeds through the decades has posted a very good explanation of this particular charge that explains it better than we have space to do here. If you browse through his website you’ll see many more stories of McNulty’s fraudulent actions and business failures.
That might explain the curious omission of McNulty’s name from the TrypRides.com website. Interesting that while his name isn’t mentioned anywhere on the site, that he is touted by the influencers/recruiters as a man who gives Tryp credibility.
In my life experience, getting involved with a company that you’re not entirely certain about is a risk. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get involved with Tryp, but I’m personally staying very far away from this deal.
It is most likely that Tryp has kept itself within the technical bounds of the law – but the ambiguity of the sales pitch makes me hesitant to part with that much money every month.
History has shown that MLMs have a well-known and well-deserved reputation for being shady businesses. When a company cares more about recruiting members to sell a product or service than they do about actually selling the product or service, the money quickly runs out and everyone involved, except those at the very top – come out losers.
Hypothetically speaking, if a man were to be declared a fraud several times by the government and wanted to prove he deserves a second chance, starting an MLM is not the way to do it. Starting an MLM is what one does whose reputation has been so badly damaged that he no longer has access to those in the upper echelons of the business world. So he turns to the unsuspecting and unknowing public. He turns to people who don’t know him and who know nothing about his past. He uses his name when he thinks it might be helpful among those who won’t know anything about his background. And he hides it when he thinks it might hurt.
Remember that just because a business is technically legal doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good deal for everyone who gets involved. Just because a business is legal doesn’t mean no one will get hurt. Hopefully, I don’t need to say anymore than that.