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 system

Pool is a startup (born and raised in Detroit!) that's facilitating carpooling for everyday commuters. Our goal is equitable transportation.

Photo of Alex Mattia
2 4

Written by

Pool has been developed with the average Michigan resident 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 in Detroit assuming a 13 mile average commute (per MDOT), 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 that are currently lacking in the City of Detroit and throughout Michigan. This application leverages existing capital (cars already owned and operated by citizens) which makes this solution quick and easy to deploy. 

As seen in the Meeting minutes from the community feedback session (see attachment) “better public transportation/new transportation/anti-congestion” was ranked as the #3 most important to ‘create’ in Corktown according to locals. Our solution is not only meeting that need, but also exceeding it. Our product allows for social and economic mobility since transportation is a large barrier for many activities that car owners take for granted. Some of our use cases include carpooling to work that may be outside of our current bus system, to school (which can be for local K-12 schools but also for college/university), and to social events like sporting events or the casino. Moreover, all of these cases are located directly in our impact area (Burton International Academy, Ford Motor Co, Detroit Public Safety Academy, Most Holy Trinity School, Motor City Casino, DSDT, local churches, etc. - FYI, we call these 'orgs' or 'organizations' throughout this proposal). In addition to our direct impact area, our solution supports inter-community travel as well. Within a short radius of our impact area we have important locations including DTE Energy Headquarters, WCC, Cass Tech, Little Caesars Arena, Western International HS, Detroit Collegiate Prep, etc. Our product can provide an important connection to all of these areas which can support career opportunities outside of our established public transit network.

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (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). The photos give a basic example of what may happen for a parent and their student that now choose to carpool with another student to school. Our matching algorithm provides a match if the drivers detour is small enough that their original ETA is not significantly changed. The parent driving to school would now pick up this second child (at 15th Butternut park, in this example) and then continue to the school to drop them both off. This is the same user experience if our product is used for carpooling to school, work, or anywhere else the users have selected in their routes.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • 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). Between the initial surveys (pre-product) and actual product testing (post-product) we were able to develop a solution that met most needs of our test users. We discussed with people of many different background and received constructive feedback.

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 (aka

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • No

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

The $50,000 will be split into multiple phases of work. Phase 1: discussions with the orgs mentioned above to see which would benefit the most from this product. 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 type of application Phase 2: pilot (see below) Phase 3: evaluate pilot (see below)

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

We want to connect our community members with the places they go to everyday, and we want to connect our community members with each other. The plan is to work with the management of these orgs to inform everyone of the service, and to get any on-boarded that are interested. We plan to leverage the credibility of the challenge participants (Ford, City of Detroit, etc) to avoid the difficulty of cold-calling these orgs to attempt to convince them of a new transportation method available. We will gather feedback (though less focused on product now, and more focused on actual utility of the application) 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 daily/weekly 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, schools savings on bus costs, etc) We also like to see if any of the organizations 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:


Join the conversation:

Photo of Boratha Tan

Hi Alex Mattia thanks for submitting! I am part of the facilitation team at City:One. I was wondering what sort of vetting system you will have for both driver and rider.
Also, would students and lower income people want to pay a subscription for carpooling?

Photo of Alex Mattia

Hi Boratha Tan thanks for your thoughtful questions! We collect/store personal info from all users (name, address, etc.) and have it confirmed by a third-party prior to any rides being completed. FYI we currently keep all of this info private due to data/info concerns that people have recently voiced around the US. We're also looking to add a background check feature in the near future which will be required for all users to complete.

Our pricing system is set based on the mileage of a commute, and is charged only when those rides are completed (i.e. not a subscription-based model). We created our rate structure specifically with the lower income individuals in mind. Our goal for this product was to provide an affordable transport option, and that meant that it had to be cheaper than driving yourself, and also comparable to public transportation in MI. We hope that this option is in fact a cost saver to most users, rather than an added cost. Rides can be as low as $1 each way for shorter distance trips (few miles).