Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

‘Pool’ - a comprehensive mobility solution and an immediate and significant improvement to our local transportation systems

Pool is a startup that's facilitating carpooling for everyday commuters. Our goal is equitable transportation.

Photo of Alex Mattia
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Pool has been developed with the underserved commuter in mind. We’ve created a mobile application to allow commuters to match with others based on their recurring weekly schedule (think work, school, church, etc.). Users decide their carpooling schedule based on starting and ending addresses, days of the week, and time departing/arriving to/from their destination. Once a driver and rider match, the driver picks up the rider based on their set schedule, and the rider pays the driver based on total mileage directly through the app to avoid cash transactions. The price point of the service is comparable to the cost of a monthly bus pass, and therefore much cheaper than ridesharing services like Lyft or Uber. This means an affordable transportation method for riders, and some supplemental income for the drivers. Pool drivers are only driving other users that have similar schedules/destinations to their own daily/weekly commutes, rather than 'taxiing' passengers like other ridesharing companies, which enables the lower costs to make the rides affordable on a long-term basis for riders. Not only do we want this to be the most affordable transportation solution, but it will also be the most convenient option, by far. The prices are comparable to public transportation, but the convenience of door-to-door service as well as daily time savings are both significant. The creators of Pool understand the importance of public transportation, but also understand the difficulty in establishing public transportation systems. This application leverages existing capital (cars already owned and operated by citizens) which makes this solution quick and easy to deploy. The current focus of the application is for recurring commutes, but we also have plans to integrate 'one-time rides' into our product which would align with this RFP even more than it currently does. The one-time rides would expand the availability of our service to also cover one-off trips to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, and even longer distance inter-city trips.

As seen in Austin's Strategic Mobility Plan “Shared Mobility” and "emerging mobility solutions" were two large focuses of the document. Our product falls in line with each of these initiatives and allows for social and economic mobility since transportation is a large barrier for many activities that car owners take for granted. 

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

As discussed previously, we believe this product is the most effective response to our lack of public transportation network. The capital expenditure required is minimal, and the service provides a win-win situation for both the riders and drivers who receive the best possible transportation solution (riders), and a supplemental income for completing rides that they are already making everyday (drivers). Our matching algorithm provides a match if the drivers detour is small enough that their original ETA is not significantly changed. The main goal is to leverage the existing routes that are already being driven by thousands of people to match up with people that are looking to head in the same direction but are unable to own/operate a car themselves.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users
  • Pilot - you have implemented your solution in a real-world scenario

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

We completed beta testing with a limited number of users and received good feedback. The discussion focus with these users was general need or lack of need (is the product useful), Usability (UI/UX), and new feature development (what else can we add). One of the highly requested new features is the 'one-time ride' functionality mentioned above. We believe this new functionality would make our product an even better fit than it already is to meet this challenge's goals.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Pool is a startup from Detroit Michigan, and all team members are based around the SE MI area. The team is comprised of 3 engineers (from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University) and 1 senior advisor who is an executive from the finance industry. We are focused on making transportation affordable and convenient for everyone, and this pilot would be the perfect opportunity to continue on our mission.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

PoolCarpool.com (aka http://carpoolapp.io)

Funding Request

  • $25,000

Rough budget (500 characters)

The $25,000 will be split into multiple phases of work. Phase 1: discussions with local entities to look for the best partner to market our product to their constituents. Out of those that are interested, Pool will select a few that seem to be the most feasible. This phase is just as important as Phase 2 so that we can engage individually with the orgs to see if they (and especially their constituents) would value this application Phase 2: pilot (see below) Phase 3: evaluate pilot (see below)

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

For this challenge, we would like to focus on large grocery stores (Trader Joes and Whole foods would be two examples next to I-35) and also large hospitals. We would like to leverage economies of scale and localize our pilot userbase as much as possible. We will need to work with locals that commute everyday to sign on as drivers to make some extra money, and then the same for hospital/grocery store users to sign on as riders so they can access these locations more easily. Again, we want to clarify that drivers are not acting as taxi drivers like Uber, they are only carpooling when the route matches their usual commute. We will gather feedback from all users and determine long-term need. We will like to see at a large scale which percentage of users continue as long-term users since we know carpooling will not be for everyone. On the other end, we would also like to bring back user statistics to these orgs and determine if they see the value in the service.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

1) initial interest: while we know carpooling will not work for everyone, we will gauge success initially based on raw total number of users that try out the application 2) Retention: we will look at retention rates for users after the first few months. If residents carpool > 1 month, then we are confident that most from this subset will continue to do so until a better option (if any) is developed 3) feedback: we will look to the orgs and their users to gather feedback on the pilot. For orgs, determine if they recognize the value-add of the service, and if there are any cost savings associated with their constituents using the product. (e.g. companies saving on parking spaces, transportation they already provide, etc.) We also like to see if any of the orgs have preliminary interest in subsidizing the service for their users. While verbal feedback is useful, hearing that orgs would pay for the application would solidify that they see the value. For users, retention will be key KPI.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

The early planning that went into the business-aspect of the application is important for our longterm goals. We knew that not only did the economics need to make sense for both the rider and the driver, but also for the company. We take a small commission (much less than the 25-30% Lyft/Uber take) from every ride that is not significant enough to cause trouble for users, but significant enough for us to cover server costs and also to continue development of the software.

Social Media

Twitter: @PoolCarpool Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/pool-carpool/

3 comments

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Photo of Franklin Brown
Team

Hi Alex,
My team and I would like to extend an open invitation to collaborate with you in the Ford 2019 City:One Challenge. Our Austin Green Health Zones project was designed to be an inclusive plan, and if we become the finalist in the competition, we would like to consider using your work as one of our included partnerships. Please take a moment to read our proposal and explore the various ways in which we maybe able to work together. We've already had a chance to look over your project and we think it would be a perfect fit to include in our plan, as our project was thought through and written to allow room for additional innovative projects just like yours. We're more than certain that you'll agree that it's a win-win situation for you and your team. Please feel free to contact us at anytime. We look forward to exchanging ideas and conversing with you soon. Thank you in advance for your time and best of luck in the challenge!

-Franklin Brown | Urban UAV Systems & Consulting, Inc.

https://challenges.cityoftomorrow.com/austin/activity?type=all&sort=popular

Photo of Alex Mattia
Team

Hi Franklin - I like your group's proposal. Do you have an email I can reach out to? Interested in discussing further details/questions that I have on your implementation plan. Thanks!

Photo of Franklin Brown
Team

Hi Alex,
Thanks for getting back to us and thank you also for your kind words of support. Please feel free to email me at frank@uuavsc.com. I look forward to conversing with you and your team.