Los Angeles and Chicago – Octopus is rolling into town! Octopus is very excited to announce our expansion to the midwest and west coast. Share the news with any of your rideshare friends in these cities and get them on the road with Octopus. Be sure to use your referral code or link!
We’re spreading our tentacles to San Antonio! We would love your help sharing the Octopus opportunity as we liftoff in San Antonio. Let your friends know how much you love your tablet, and start racking up the referral bonuses in our newest city!
Get your riders to play the most games Fri-Sun to help your city win! We’ll be looking at the games played PER DRIVER (so smaller and larger cities have an EQUAL chance!) to determine a winner. The city matchups are below:
- Houston vs Austin
- New York City vs Boston
- Philadelphia vs Washington DC
- Richmond vs Baltimore
One randomly-selected driver from each winning city will get $100! Drivers must have driven this weekend and had games played to be eligible. Winning cities and drivers announced Monday afternoon.
It’s time for Octo Madness, our version of a “bracket” where you can win $500 just for driving. Your riders are your “team” and every game point they score, you score! Every driver who makes it to the final round will get a small prize, and one lucky driver will win the $500 grand prize. Go here for all the details and official rules.
Last week I had the chance to chat with Terry, a rideshare driver that is based out of Harrisburg Pennsylvania, but regularly drives in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
“I frequently drive up to New York City, so when I’m on my way up I’ll turn the app on and pick up a few riders and gradually move closer and closer to NYC. Says Terry. “It’s not uncommon for the 3-hour drive to turn into 14 hours, but the drive pays for itself!”
I love this strategy, but what I love even more is hearing about the $150+ in tips that Terry makes every month…
Yep $150+ in tips every month because of a tablet called Play Octopus
I had to know his secrets, so Terry was kind enough to open up and tell me about how he’s using Play Octopus to make more than $150 in tips every month.
What is Play Octopus
The first thing that I had to ask Terry was what in the world Play Octopus is.
Well, it turns out it’s pretty cool. Play Octopus is game tablet built as a way to help rideshare drivers entertain their passengers.
Rideshare drivers simply apply to receive a FREE tablet (yes I said free). After drivers install the tablet in the backseat of their car, passengers can easily hop in and play during their ride!
“Riders see the tablet in the backseat and love it.” says Terry. “People will start to play the free games and generally loosen up and start to engage with me.” Passengers also have the chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card if they achieve the highest score of the day.
The games on the tablet are free, so the passengers will see some ads of course, but Play Octopus also shares some of that revenue with drivers. Terry says Octopus pays him up to $100 per month.
An extra $100 per month for doing almost nothing is great, but the real money comes from the tips.
How is Terry Earning $150+ in Tips Each Month?
Terry has always worked to boost his ratings and tip income, and he says the key is building a relationship with your passenger.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with passengers which means I’ve had a good rating,” says Terry. “That starts with what I do before I ever go pick up a passenger.
You see, step 1 in Terry’s master plan for boosting his tip income is to send each passenger that he picks up a prebuilt text that tells them who he is, what car he is driving, and that tips aren’t required but are appreciated.
This text has three main benefits. One, it lets your passenger know what car to look out for so that there is less time wasted texting back and forth saying “where are you”. Two, it shows your passengers that you are accommodating and care enough to make sure they know what car to look out for. And three, it gently broaches the subject of tips so it’s in the minds of your passengers from the moment they get in the car.
Now that it’s on their mind, drivers just need to earn their tip, and that’s where Play Octopus comes in.
“Passengers almost immediately engage in some way with the tablet.” says Terry “They’ll start playing games, which opens up a conversation that turns into engaging them in a deeper conversation, which turns into passengers liking me as a person. People tip drivers that they like.”
Play Octopus is a relationship builder. It’s an easy way to deliver value to a passenger that takes walls down and allows drivers to engage more with passengers, and that engagement leads to more and more tips.
How much do drivers make with Play Octopus?
Drivers earn money with Play Octopus through tips, cash rewards when passengers play a game, and referral bonuses for sharing Play Octopus with fellow rideshare drivers.
Play Octopus drivers can receive a cash reward of up to $100 per month depending on how much you drive, but the bulk of your payout will come in the form of tips from passengers. Our friend Terry is making $150 more per month in tips with Play Octopus than he was before he installed Play Octopus.
That’s about $250 more per month that Terry is making by simply adding a free tablet to his car and keeping it charged.
How can drivers get started
Getting started with Play Octopus is easy, and best of all, FREE!
All drivers need to do is sign up with the service and within a few days, you’ll receive a tablet in the mail. From there, simply place it in your car and start driving.
There’s no restocking and no maintenance. So it’s a no brainer.
Al Castillo doesn’t have a traditional job. As a full-time rideshare driver in New York City, his office is his 2017 Honda Pilot.
Castillo, 33, started driving for apps like Uber, Lyft and Juno about four years ago, and he’s been driving professionally for much longer. Before ridesharing took off in New York City, he drove school buses for seven years. He also drove for taxi service companies, which is how many New Yorkers got from point A to point B before Uber arrived in May 2011.
What’s it really like to drive full-time in one of the busiest cities in America? I spent a day on the road with Castillo to find out.
Castillo typically works six days a week, Monday through Saturday. On weekdays, he starts driving between 6 and 7 a.m. and finishes up between 4 and 5 p.m. That’s nine to 11 hours a day. On Saturday, he starts his day a little later, between 8 and 9 a.m.
On this particular morning, a Wednesday, he was “feeling sleepy,” he tells me, and left his home in Brooklyn at 7 a.m. First, though, he grabbed breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts.
The flexibility that comes with being your own boss makes up for the long hours, says Castillo. The father of three schedules his day so that he can be home in time to pick his kids up from school, help with homework and have a family dinner.
On a typical day, Castillo brings home $250. If he works Monday to Saturday, that’s $1,500 per week, which comes out to about $6,000 a month. He earns an additional $100 to $300 per month by using Cargo, which pays him a monthly rate for selling products like snacks and headphones to passengers, and Play Octopus, which pays him to mount a tablet that offers trivia games and plays ads.
That means, theoretically, he’s earning $72,000 a year from rides and between $1,200 and $3,600 a year from Cargo and Play Octopus, for a total of about $75,000 before taxes.
Castillo gets paid per ride and his earnings depend on how long the trip is, how much distance he covers and whether or not there’s “surge pricing,” which is when demand for rides is high and prices for passengers goes up. Surge pricing, or “prime time,” as Lyft calls it, tends to happen during rush hour, bad weather or if there’s a big event going on in the area.
Castillo and I check in on his earnings periodically. A mid-morning, 22-minute UberX trip earns him nearly $10. The app doesn’t show how much the customer paid — it just breaks down Castillo’s take: He earns a base rate (what you’re paid to start the ride) of $1.83, a time rate (what you earn per minute in your region) of $5.49, and a distance rate (what you earn per mile in your region) of $2. Total: $9.32.
Uber and Lyft both collect about 30 percent of all passenger fares, Castillo tells me. Juno takes just 16 percent, but it’s not as popular an app yet, he adds. Sure enough, we don’t get one call from Juno over the course of the day and, instead, flip back and forth between Uber and Lyft.
He has all three because, depending on what neighborhood he’s driving in, one app may be busier than the others. “People in Bed Stuy [Brooklyn] like to use Lyft,” he says. “If you’re in Queens, people like Juno.”
The more rides he completes, the more he gets paid, so “you want to be busy all the time,” he tells me. “Our time is money.”
That’s why Castillo rarely takes breaks throughout the day. We don’t make our first pit stop until 2 p.m., when Castillo runs into his mother-in-law’s apartment to use the bathroom. He does this once or twice a day, he tells me. Besides that, we pull over once more to stretch our legs.
Castillo doesn’t stop for a meal or eat during his entire shift. That’s not entirely normal, though: He usually packs a lunch from home that he’ll eat in his car, but today’s breakfast, he assures me, was filling.
After about nine hours on the road — 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Castillo makes $233 across 15 rides. Nine rides and $140 come from Lyft, while six rides and $93 come from Uber.
“That’s a good day,” he tells me, especially considering he took more breaks than usual to accommodate my filming.
On his best day, Castillo took home $540 after nine hours of driving, thanks to surge pricing. One-fifth of that came from a single, lucrative trip to the airport, he says: “It was snowing and it was ugly outside. It was like 5:30 or 6 p.m., peak hours. They paid me like $110.”
While Castillo can earn about $6,000 per month, the expenses that come with the gig add up.
For starters, he needs a car. He drove a Nissan Pathfinder up until a couple of months ago, when he upgraded to a 2017 Honda Pilot. He bought it nearly brand new — it had just 25 miles on it — for about $40,000, he says.
The vehicle was a worthwhile investment, Castillo tells me, because it can fit more passengers, which means he can pick up bigger groups and earn more money. Plus, it comes with features like automatic braking, a back-up camera and a sunroof. “We go everywhere, so your car’s gotta be 100 percent,” he says.
Here’s a breakdown of the other expenses he has to factor in:
TLC driver license: $252 to renew every three years ($84 per year)
TLC vehicle renewal: $625 every other year ($312.50 per year)
Every other year, Castillo has to renew his car and bring it in for a thorough inspection. This costs $625: $550 for the renewal fee and $75 for the inspection fee.
Regular inspections: $37 every four months ($111 per year)
As a rideshare driver in New York state, Castillo also has to do more regular inspections — every four months — at the DMV. These cost $37 each.
NYC commercial motor vehicle tax: $400 per year (to DMV)
Vehicle registration: $456 per year
Insurance: $400 per month ($4,800 per year)
The cost of insurance depends on your driving record and can vary anywhere from $400 to $800 per month, Castillo estimates, though he pays closer to $400 a month.
Gas: $675 per month ($8,100 per year)
Gas also varies per driver and depends on your car model, how much you drive and where you’re driving. Castillo says he fills up his tank every other day for $45. That’s about $675 per month.
Maintenance: About $2,500 per year
This includes oil changes, tire repairs and brake repairs. Castillo has to change his oil every four to five weeks, which costs $70 each time.
His brakes are inspected every three months, which costs about $220 each time. As for tires, they get checked out every three months. It costs about $100 to repair each tire, but not every tire has to be repaired every time, he says.
Drivers are required to do a drug test every year and take courses in things like defensive driving and wheelchair passenger assistance, which they pay for out of pocket. Plus, Castillo buys cleaning products — he wipes down his leather seats every day — and gets the exterior of his car cleaned every few days.
Unexpected costs like traffic and parking tickets can also arise.
In total, that’s about $17,000 of expenses to account for each year. Plus, he owes taxes on his earnings. Like any freelancer, he fills out a 1099 tax form every year to report his income.
The best part of the job
Besides the flexibility that comes with being your own boss, Castillo loves the social aspect of the job.
On this particular day, we complete 15 rides and pick up about 30 passengers from all walks of life: a mother and daughter visiting from North Carolina, a caterer delivering lunch in midtown Manhattan and co-workers from a Brooklyn-based start-up that makes dog food.
Castillo talks to everyone. “I like to meet people,” he tells me. “I like to talk to people of different backgrounds.”
The hardest part of the job
The passengers can also be the toughest part of his job, though — dealing with the ones with attitude, that is.
The best way to handle unhappy passengers is to simply stay calm, he tells me, and to remember that “you only gotta be with them in the car for 10, 20 minutes.” After that, you never have to see them again.
Driving in New York City is no easy task, either, he adds, especially in Manhattan: “You gotta be aware of the yellow cabs, bikes, people. When the light is green, people are crossing the street so we always gotta be looking at our mirror every second. You always gotta be aware.”
What it takes to be a great rideshare driver
If you want to stand out, you need three things, Castillo tells me.
1. A phone charger for passengers. After all, “everybody always need a charger,” he says.
2. Patience. “If you don’t have patience to drive and to meet people and deal with people, don’t do it,” says Castillo. “Because patience is the most important thing. You’re not only driving — you’re dealing with traffic, you’re dealing with bikes, you’re dealing with the customer.”
3. A good vibe. “Vibe is everything,” Castillo tells me, and it’s important to read your passengers, too. If they’re on a phone call, for example, turn the music down.
He’s gone above and beyond to make his car clean and comfortable: It’s outfitted with hand sanitizer, tissues, lotion, water bottles and chargers that are compatible for both iPhones and Androids. He’s even installed a Super Nintendo in the backseat that customers can play on their trip.
A clean car helps, too, Castillo adds: “When they see that your car is clean, they know that you know what you’re doing. When they see that, they just relax.”
Castillo has earned his high rating — he has a nearly perfect five stars across all three apps and was recently recognized as a Rider Preferred driver by Uber — but the number doesn’t mean much to him. “I got a good rating but I don’t really pay mind to that,” says Castillo. “I just like to be a good person, good vibe. I say, if you’re good with somebody, good will come back to you.”
Tropical Vacation Giveway
Congrats to Daniel V. for winning a $2,000 vacation for two to Miami. Keep an eye out for more fun contests & giveaways…
Houston & Austin Launch
We’re launching Austin & Houston. Help us spread the tentacles! Active drivers may refer TX friends and earn $25 each.
Need Referral Cards? Charging Issues?
Contact our support team 24/7. We’ll do our best to get back to you within 24 hours (usually quicker): www.playoctopus.com/support
Our drivers continue to earn tons of money, and we have big improvements coming soon (pssst – instant payouts).
Introducing points rewards! Now when you reach 5,000 points, you’ll get an Octopus YETI tumbler to keep your drinks hot/cold for hours.
We released a new app version this week with a new game room and other bells/whistles. New games and leaderboard coming by March!
Passenger gameplay infographic below – enjoy!
Yee-haw, we’re headed to Texas!! We didn’t want the East Coast to hog all the Octopus love, so we’re launching Austin and Houston. If you have a rideshare friend in these cities, please share the news and your referral code.
The holidays are officially over, and we’re excited to kick off another year with our incredible driver community. To celebrate, we’re giving one lucky driver a $2,000 TROPICAL GETAWAY for two! Escape the chilly Northeast with a free trip to sunny Miami – airfare, lodging, and spending money are all included. Go here for all the details and official rules.
To celebrate the holiday season, Octopus wants to give back to YOU, the drivers that have helped us get where we are today. We’re giving away 8 swag packs EVERY DAY this week. This is your chance to get a sweet Octopus t-shirt, winter gear, and more!
The first step is joining our members-only Facebook group here. Each day, we’ll announce how to win the daily prizes in the morning, and will announce winners in the evening.