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These former product managers founded a transit tech startup during the pandemic

Jawnt cofounders Jeff Stade and Will Sanderson spoke to Founding Philly about the young company's growth during a time when employers are rethinking workers' commutes.

Jawnt cofounders Will Sanderson (left) and Jeff Stade. (Courtesy)
This is a guest post by Founding Philly host Zach Brand. A version of it originally appeared in the podcast's newsletter. It appears here as part of a media partnership between Technical.ly and Founding Philly.

After March 2020, transit ridership really hit rock bottom. Looking at a graph from that time, one might think: Why would anyone want to start a company in the transit space?

Yet as employers contemplated a return to the office, a Philly startup found itself well positioned.

Jawnt — with “jaunt” meaning a short trip, and the “w” swapped in as a nod to the company’s home city — aims to assist organizations in rethinking transportation and employee commutes, while also engaging with transit agencies to discuss ways to regain ridership and encourage more people to return to public transit.

The startup enables organizations to allocate funds for their employees’ transit needs, allowing them to fully or partially cover the costs associated with commuting. Its platform integrates into existing payroll systems, simplifying the payment process and enabling teams to maximize both pre-tax and post-tax savings.

Jawnt is backed by the likes of Crossbeam Ventures, Mucker Capital, Triple Impact Capital, and Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani. In 2022, Jawnt partnered with SEPTA on its Key Advantage program.

Tune in to this episode of Founding Philly to hear cofounders Jeff Stade, a former senior product manager for Tidelift, and Will Sanderson, a former senior product manager for Comcast’s MachineQ, share their journey of founding Jawnt. They discuss the lessons learned, and how their platform is changing how individuals and organizations access and use transit options across cities.

Companies: SEPTA
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