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Safe rides for kids anywhere, anytime

Photo of Henry McDonough
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Written by

  • Sheprd is addressing an unnoticed problem that takes place 14 billion times / year in the United States: micro transit for America's youth.  Today's enormous market has only two suppliers - neither of which could be described as efficient or tech-enabled. These two suppliers are 1. Mom & Dad in their personal vehicle and 2. the School Bus Industry.
  • Sheprd approaches this market tech first - with a mobile app that lets parents book on-demand, scheduled, and recurring rides for their children with the convenience of an Uber or Lyft experience – and proprietary technology matching dozens of students with others going the same way. Kids are transported in Sheprd’s fleet of safe, fully-insured and licensed 7D-certified SUVs (seat belts, airbags, first aid, safety equipment, etc.) handled by the Company’s W2 drivers (background checked, pediatric first-aid certified, 7D licensed, pre-shift breathalyzer). 

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

Sheprd’s addressable market is broad, but demand tends to increase in areas with: -Low walkability scores -High density of public / private schooling -Households with >1 child Child transportation, primarily related to after-school activities, is a common need across parents with children ages 5-15. Target customer segments include: -Dual-income families that are unable to leave their jobs to pick up kids -Parents with multiple children with differing schedules -Families requiring rides for their kids “on demand” (i.e. in a pinch)

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)

Our team is our greatest asset. We have a dynamic range of backgrounds whose greatest strength is their desire to work together to solve big problems. At Sheprd, college drop-outs, ivy-leaguers, investment bankers, and small business owners work together in a collegiate environment. We play ping pong at the office and do archery on the weekend because we actually enjoy each other’s company – everyone on our team believes it’s a blast to be here every day.

Size of your team or organization

  • 11-50

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

We would leverage our existing suite of child mobility software (e.g., routing optimization, roster management, live tracking, driver app, etc.) and driver training to set up remote operations in a new market. We would hire 1 FTE to run operations in this test market and to be Sheprd’s liaison. We would deploy an asset light model, where we recruit drivers with their own vehicles; however we would employ the drivers as W2, and install our current standard operating procedures and shift management. We would roll this out with 5-10 drivers and 5-10 parents to test its viability. Similarly to our core market of Newton, MA, we would scale beyond the pilot by; a) raising additional capital to keep expanding operations + sales / marketing in this new market; b) convert to gross profitability in Year 2, to start paying down operating costs and ultimately create a self-sustainable business model.

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

We would look at similar metrics that we look at our in our current markets, including: 1) Customer re-booking rate (to get a sense of customer satisfaction); 2) Pickup / dropoff on time % (measure of Operational performance); 3) ride booking growth WoW;


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Tinker

How might your project address the needs of kids with disabilities?

Photo of Henry McDonough

Hi David Tinker ,

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Sheprd! Great question. Our vision is for Sheprd to be the best solution for ALL types of students. When booking rides, customers have the option to include any additional details or instructions that they want Sheprd to be aware of. We work diligently to meet these requests so that every Sheprd rider experiences the most comfortable ride possible every single time.

Currently, we provide rides for several customers who have children with special needs. While we aim to treat every student equally, we also understand that some students may require more attention than others. The reason that we screen and train our drivers so extensively is so that parents of all types of children will feel comfortable trusting Sheprd to get their kids from point A to B.

The common rhetoric that we get from parents of special needs children is that Sheprd has been the solution to their ongoing transportation nightmare. Parents are given a peace of mind knowing that our background checks and screening processes are significantly more extensive than those of other services designed to provide rides to special needs children. Our drivers are friendly and go out of their ways to connect with every student who rides in their vehicle. Finally, we keep an open customer service line 24/7 and allow real time tracking of rides so that parents can monitor and reach their children at all times.

Photo of KatieWalsh 100

Hi Henry - thanks for this idea. You'll see three others that sound similar posted already - Zing, ShuttleBee and PikmyKid. Are you open to working in cahoots with these other projects if they are interested - do you think there's enough business out there for you all? Is there anything that really distinguishes you from the others? Let us know in a comment or update your proposal. Thanks, Katie, Facilitator.