Being a working parent and managing your children’s schedule can be a daunting task. Apart from dropping them off and picking them from school, the host of extra-curricular activities exacerbate the transportation and coordination problems. Coordinating carpools are also messy. But worry no more. GoKid has the perfect solution to solve your transportation and coordination problems. GoKid is a New York based start-up that has developed an app and web platform that provides mobility solutions for all your children’s activities. The start-up recently raised $1.5 million as a part of their venture round from VilCap Investments.
Stefanie Lemcke, founder and CEO, came up with this solution as a response to many of the challenges she was facing. Four years ago, Stefanie and her family moved out of New York City to settle in a suburb an hour away. While life in the suburb was much more peaceful, there was one challenge that popped up – driving her kids to their extra-curricular activities. While the school provided buses to and from school, there were times when her daughters had to get to school earlier or had to stay back after school. Being full-time working parents, coordinating pickups and drops was a challenge. She reached out to her neighbours and started carpooling. However, coordination turned out to be painful with numerous texts and phone calls going back and forth with an element of uncertainty always lingering. The complexity of carpooling increased with activities such as seasonal sports and choir practice where she didn’t know whom to carpool with.
Determined to solve this problem, she hired two engineers and a design company and started building a prototype. After working on the product for a year, in 2016 the GoKid team was accepted into Techstars Mobility. That’s when she decided to quit her job and pursue GoKid full time. The GoKid team has been actively participating in various events and competitions across the country. They have won numerous awards at various forums such as the SXSW Accelerator and Village Capital’s US Energy in 2018.
The GoKid Solution
GoKid currently has two products – GoKid Technologies and GoKid Connect. GoKid Technologies is the carpool solution where one can invite known parents to create carpools. It is available via an app as well as on the web. The onboarding process is very simple. After registering, you can add your family members (adult or child). After adding the members, a carpool can be created for an activity. An invite can then be sent to other parents who want to be a part of this carpool. They can then volunteer and select which trips they would like to drive. The app has a wide range of features such as reminders, route mapping, live tracking, and pickup and drop notifications among others to facilitate this entire process.
During their pilot projects with various schools, they stumbled across another challenge that remained hidden. While parents were interested in the app, the question they were asking is whom do I carpool with? Every once in a while, activities and classes change. This means finding a new set of people with whom the schedule matches. GoKids Connect was launched to solve this information problem. GoKid Connect is the mobility solution for schools where families within a school or school district can discover others through a secure website and create carpools. Parents get access to a database shared by the schools and teams where users can look for other parents who live close by and then reach out to them. Some of the partners include Crystal Springs Upland School and St. Luke’s, Connecticut.
The GoKid team has been mindful of small details. The entire family shares the same password for their account, making it accessible and easy for all family members. During the activity creation and invitation stage, the invites are sent after all the details of the activity are filled up to ensure clarity. There is a child account as well where the child can view schedules and see who is coming to pick him or her up. The GoKid team is always engaging with the users and improving product based on feedback.
The GoKid team has found some interesting statistics on the size and magnitude of the problem. In a recent interview with AlleyWatch, Stefanie Lemcke said “In the US more than 50,000 schools are without busses. As a result, more than 32 million children are being driven to school daily, causing approximately a third of all morning traffic, and billions of hours of lost productivity time for parents…”
The usage statistics shed light on the magnitude and universality of the problem. GoKid has users in 25 countries spanning 650 cities, with over 140,000 carpool rides having been scheduled. With funding for school transportation reducing, there is an increasing demand for alternative solutions.
Carpools are one of the most affordable and convenient alternatives. Carpooling not only saves time and money, but by consequence, even saves fuels and reduces traffic. But coordination is a major problem. It involves discussions on WhatsApp groups, numerous phone calls, reminders on the phone, and posts on the fridge with schedules (if not excel sheets). GoKid solves all these challenges as it integrates all these activities into one app. It helps you reclaim family time and personal time. It also solves the information problem by sharing the data collected from schools and teams with users.
While the app is available for free, one of the revenue streams is premium services. For $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, features such as in-app chats, notification settings, calendar integration and setting up carpools for TeamSnap events are available.
Many start-ups have emerged that provide ‘Uber for kids’ service such as HopSkipDrive and Zūm. With prices per ride starting at $18, these companies cater to a different target audience.
GoKid has been quick to identify trusted networks and integrate their services within this framework. Their partnership with TeamSnap, a sports management platform with 15 million users, is very strategic. GoKid has also partnered with Bosch and InMotion to integrate GoKid into vehicles. With this framework, GoKid is slowly expanding its product offerings which they believe could soon include corporates and events. GoKid is thinking big and thinking global.