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College alum John Chatzky invests in successful Skeddadle app, which is "the first crowdsourced transportation network," according to its website.

Credit: Katie Zhao

When John Chatzky, a 1978 College graduate and angel investor, chooses which young entrepreneur to support, their college athletic prowess occasionally plays a large role.

“I only invest in companies where rowers are the founders,” he said. “I have [a] greater degree of respect and faith and trust that rowers will succeed in business above the ordinary Joe.”

His latest project is an app called Skedaddle — “the first crowdsourced transportation network” — according to its website. And one of its co-founders, of course, is a rower.

“I’m looking for people who had a certain amount of drive and passion and excellence in the rowing world,” Chatzky said. “I want people that are going to transfer that energy and that drive into a business.”

Through the app, users can either reserve seats on pre-set “public” routes to specific events or locations, or groups can order buses for “private” routes to a location of their choosing. Currently, Skedaddle operates out of New York City, Boston, D.C. and Philadelphia.

The app was born out of necessity, CEO Adam Nestler said, who found that living in Boston without a car made it difficult to plan excursions outside of the city. Nestler’s co-founder, Brad Werntz, rowed as an undergraduate at Princeton.

“Not having a car in the city meant moving around within the city was pretty easy,” he said. “But getting to locations that we wanted to travel to was really a big pain. We’d have to rent a car which is expensive, or we’d have to get a ride from a friend or piece together public transport, and what we really wanted was a solution where we could ... aggregate people that were traveling to the same places at the same times.”

When Skedaddle started in summer 2015, it exclusively featured public routes to specific events and destinations, but it soon expanded to allow for private, customizable routes.

“Now we have routes going everywhere,” Nestler said.

The app is especially conducive for student groups and other organizations that might take trips to events or locations away from campus.

“If you’re in a club or a social organization, a fraternity or a sorority, and you and twenty or thirty or a hundred people want to travel somewhere or go to a formal or something,” Nestler said, “you can now with a few taps on your phone get the price immediately, split the payment with everybody else in the organization and the bus will just show up and you’ll be done.”

Since its founding, Skedaddle has grown an extraordinary amount — transporting over 45,000 people from Boston and New York City alone. Chatzky has been thrilled by the app’s spurt in popularity.

“It’s staggering,” he said. “It’s beyond my wildest expectations.”

As a student at Penn, Chatzky walked on to the rowing team as a coxswain, which turned out to be what he considers the best thing he has ever done. His dedication to rowing did not end in college, however.

“Now that I’m an old fart — I’m 59 — and I’m in a position to give back,” Chatzky said, “among my priorities for giving back are Penn Rowing and U.S. Rowing.”

Chatzky has also worked in real estate, but that field of work did not excite him like angel investing does.

“When I sit with a young man or a young woman ... with a dream, willing to work 80 hours a week to make that dream come true,” he said, “it’s unbelievably fulfilling.”

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