With all the traffic that’s holding you back from getting to work on time, you might have to start taking the subway. But while each year, traffic seems to get worse and worse there is one app that is tackling this problem. The GoKid app, the platform that lets users know who has extra space in their car, is encouraging carpools and less cars on the road. Whether it is for school, soccer practice, or to get to work, it is an environmentally conscious decision that actually benefits everyone in the city.
Founders Stefanie Lemcke and Sophie Koven talk to AlleyWatch about how they plan to make carpooling easier and more fun for the City of New York.
Tell us about the product or service.
The GoKid app is a complete carpool solution that will save families time, and also reduce traffic and emissions. As busy parents of active children we found that there was no easy way to organize kids’ carpools for school or other activities, so we created an app that will benefit not only the families who use it, but also their communities. Thirty percent of morning traffic is caused by parents transporting their children to school. Carpooling can reduce that congestion and save everyone time. Our mobile app integrates key technologies that easily facilitate carpool management including GPS-based tracking of cars, integrated calendars, in-app texting, automatic alerts, and family accounts.
How is it different?
Unlike services such as Shuddle or Uber that use paid drivers who are strangers, GoKid users are creating free carpools with parents they know and trust. GoKid users are utilizing the excess capacity in one another’s cars and, through this collaboration, are actually decreasing traffic in congested areas around schools, sports fields, and local community centers.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
GoKid’s initial target market is the parents and caretakers of the 50 million school-age children in the United States. Additionally, 33 million US school children are also playing organized sports after school, so there are literally billions of annual car rides that our app can help to reduce. But traffic and kids transportation needs are global. We are quickly rolling out internationally.
What is the business model?
GoKid is a mobility solution AND a productivity solution. Productivity apps are the fastest growing sector in mobile apps, accumulating 60% of all app revenues in 2014. Similar to other parent productivity apps, the core of our technology will be free and we will add premium features at a later stage. In order to grow quickly, we will be partnering with global environmental initiatives, sports leagues, schools, cities and communities, and later we will also integrate a reward system for every mile carpooled and every carpool created using the app. As part of the global sharing economy we are confident we will have millions of users in a short time span. Car manufacturers are investing in technologies to integrate into the connected car – GoKid can become a leading global mobility and productivity tool.
What inspired the business?
My co-founder and I both had moved to Connecticut from New York City and found ourselves trapped in traffic jams with our neighbors as we all drove to the same place at the same time to drop off and pick up our kids. In today’s tech-centric world, when we order groceries, airline tickets, and even transportation on demand, we knew there had to be a better way to organize our kids’ transportation needs.
What does your platform do to address safety concerns?
We are not hiring drivers, and are not providing cars, but simply provide the platform for matching the empty seats of parents with friends of their kids. We are a technology facilitating carpools for parents with people they know and trust and already carpool with. Our terms of service are very clear about this.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We just soft launched the iOS version – and are now working on launching Android in the Google Play store. We will be building out our technology, adding features, and integrating with first partners. We are also currently raising a seed round.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
I have three:
- Your weekends are history.
- You still feel super energized (most days).
- You won’t have any other conversational topic.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
As previous founders and investors, we’re pretty connected already but we obviously love to meet any mobile developer who is looking for an amazing opportunity
Why did you launch in New York?
One of the most obvious reasons is New York City’s global standing as a tech and innovation hub. However, the reason we found particularly compelling is New York’s focus on finding new solutions to solving its traffic problem. 1.35 million children are enrolled in schools in New York City, approximately 25% of them are driven to school in a car; if we could get just 5% of them to carpool with one other family, we’d be removing over 15,000 cars from the streets of the city each morning and afternoon. New York is a place where we could see a huge impact in a short time, and as a trend-setting city, we feel that other cities around the US and the world would adopt this greener model of transportation. Needless to say, the proximity to great talent, investors, and good food doesn’t hurt either.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
I absolutely love the new Whitney and wish I had more time to go to the Chelsea galleries on Thursday nights. Fall / winter is a great time for Japanese Izakayas, hot sake followed by a round of karaoke–the best place for that is Korea Town.