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

Addressing the unique needs of seniors, those with disabilities, and our youth.

Our contribution is promoting discussion about transportation for the most vulnerable and providing a piloted solution to the community.

Photo of annie young
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When it comes to mobility, some issues are easy to see. For example, when we are downtown or in commercial areas, we notice the vast empty parking lots that span a block, and we think space can be better used. We notice congested streets and see the need for alternative transportation such as bussing, biking, and walking.  Many of these issues are noticed by the City as well, in fact, recently the City of Grand Rapids shared their goals with the community.

The City of Grand Rapids  - Mobility Service Investment Plan
 $200,000 to be spent on transportation solutions including:

Employer outreach programs
Try transit initiative
Bicycle and pedestrian safety education and programming
Seeking car share programs

These are great goals and areas of improvement for our community. However, what is missing from this discussion is what many do not see. Which is the transportation difficulties that seniors, those with disabilities, and our school-aged children face on a regular basis. Because of the baby boomer generation, this demographic is growing faster than any other group and is something that needs to be addressed now to strengthen and take care of our community. As a community, we need to pull together to make this a priority and give a voice to those who are too often overlooked.

The Challenge Question and/or Opportunity Area

The City of Tomorrow Challenge is looking for ideas for mobility options that can extend or enhance the existing infrastructure and services within the West Michigan Area, as well as solutions which focus on improved access, greater mobility, and increased safety for the City’s most vulnerable travelers. The proposal we are submitting focuses on the underserved and most vulnerable in our area and creates a viable solution which extends and creates mobility services for seniors, those with disabilities and our youth.

What we found to be true is a gap exists between West Michigan residents' personal mobility needs and existing services which are available, specifically, those residents of West Michigan who are more vulnerable (including seniors, those with disabilities, veterans and even school-aged youth). These individuals have decreased options and availability when it comes to transportation. Sadly, most are forced to make do with the restrictive or limited options available to them. If nothing is available, the lack of transportation has a varying degree of life-altering consequence, and can negatively impact those in our communities to miss appointments or sacrifice quality of life activities. In the West Michigan area, the services that exist like Go Bus are excellent, but not enough, and beyond relying on family and friends, there are not many options in our community that our most vulnerable know, like, trust or can afford.

Our Idea

Design a transportation platform to assist and transport Seniors, those with disabilities, those that cannot or should not drive, or those wanting extra assistance or more security.  The platform should be capable of assisting and protecting vulnerable passengers, including, but not limited to those that are hard of hearing, have a visual impairment, cognitive issues, and physical limitation, as well as advocating for people of all races, age, genders, social status, and Veterans. Finally, this model should be designed to be inclusive and work with communities to address the differing needs which cities may have.

Our Solution

Kboose is a socially conscious technology company designed to address the mobility gap which exists in our society, by providing a PaaS hybrid rideshare platform for seniors, those with disabilities and our school-aged children. (PaaS is the technical term for platform as a service)

Kboose takes an innovative approach to mobility. We created this hybrid platform by combining a human element with PaaS technology. With our technology  we pair contracted companion drivers with those that request a ride. Each driver can interact with the rider and assist them as much as necessary. Sometimes it is a pickup and drop-off, and other times it is a stay and support round-trip experience. The real-life case studies of Pat, Karen, Jason, Don, Bonnie, and our Youth (which is included in attached documentation) highlight the diversity of our clients and how we need versatility to transport and assist our riders. To contrast this with other services, Kboose companion drivers do more than just curb-to-curb pickup and drop off. Our Drivers offer our customers complete door-to-door service, from assisting our passengers to and from the vehicle or loading groceries, to waiting for passengers while they run errands or attending appointments with them as a companion.

Our piloting within the community taught us the Companion Drivers may embrace and require technology; however, riders may not. Our hybrid platform addresses this by allowing us to connect with the driver in multiple ways, including outside of technology.

Additionally, our platform can expand with emerging technologies. However, at Kboose, we recognize the functionality of a computer program or a tech platform will never replace the need for human compassion, empathy, and kindness. At Kboose, we want the time our riders spent with us to be the best part of their day - not just how they got there.

Finally, our service model is scalable and would not just target large cities. Rural and outlying communities would be welcome and encouraged to utilize Kboose to assist with their mobility gap as well.

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

The Kboose Platform is designed to be used by seniors, those with disabilities, those that can't or shouldn't drive, or those wanting extra assistance or more security. Our model is meant to assist and protect vulnerable passengers, including but not limited to those that are hard of hearing, have a visual impairment, cognitive issues, and physical limitation, as well as advocating for people of all races, age, genders, social status, and Veterans. Our model is also designed to be inclusive and work with communities to address the differing needs which cities may have. Ultimately it is our goal to extend our service beyond individual customers. Future partnerships of Kboose will include those in the Healthcare Industry (hospitals, physical therapy centers, pain clinics and Doctors’ offices), retirement facilities and senior centers, schools, manufacturing facilities and other transportation systems. These connections will allow Kboose to have a profound impact on mobility.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Pilot - you have implemented your solution in a real-world scenario
  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Kboose consists of two parts, Those actively working in and on the business • Drivers • Contractors • Founders The Project Team Individuals and Organizations, whom we consult, collaborate and seek guidance from. The Project Team consists of experts who are willing to help guide, grow and implement a solution which addresses the mobility gap. Our Project team includes experts in the following fields, • Technology • Transportation • Social Services • Advocacy • Business/Finance

Size of your team or organization

  • 11-50

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Funding from this grant, along with self/bootstrap funding we have already put forth will allow Kboose to move out of the volunteer phase, and be functional within the West Michigan Region immediately. Kboose will use a formula based on time and miles, as well as a few other fees to generate revenue. Our plan for sustainability also calls for rapid deployment in multiple communities, and while we are deploying, in new cities we will maintain focus on growth in the markets that we already exist within. The more cities that we operate in, the higher the chance of success we have in the first three years. The compilation of Kbooses’ financial data, including a projected P&L, budget and breakeven calculations been reviewed by our business advisors. With expected growth and scalability, we see a low profitable over the first two years due to the cost of insurance. In 3 to 5 years when our size offsets expenses we project the ability to be a solidly profitable business.

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

Our piloting has taught us satisfaction is not primarily achieved through targets, measures, and processes. It is about company culture and personal satisfaction. It is about the people we interact with, their culture and their values. So the only important satisfaction benchmark for is how the Riders and Drivers feel after each ride and measuring it against expectation. Riders & Drivers Expectations • To feel Safe and Be Safe • Affordable & Consistent Pricing • Companionship & A Friend • Voice in what they do • Respect & Treated Fairly • Listened To and Effectively Communicate This benchmarking requires the continuous evaluation of rides and expectation as well as constant efforts to provide information to help manage and develop expectations for both Riders and Drivers.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mindi Knebel

Hi Annie, congratulations on advancing to the semi-finalist round of the Grand Rapids City of Tomorrow Challenge! This is such needed solution, what are your specific use cases, and how do they overlap with the needs of the Grand Rapid patient populations? What sets you apart from traditional ride traditional ride share opportunities? Hope these questions help you shape your idea! Best of luck in the challenge and I'm excited to see where your ideas take you!

Photo of annie young

Hi Mindy, congratulations to you. I think I've seen you in the Miami and Grand Rapids finals. I haven't had a chance to look at your proposal yet but it looks like you're an insurance company, yes? We are a transportation company that's been piloting for 2 years in the Grand Rapids area and had lots of successes, and even a few failures. I've been looking at all the finalists tonight and there is some amazing ideas out there, it's good to be part of this group.

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