Minnesotan develops, plans to launch ride share app targeted at college students
FARGO - When Matthew Sullivan drives to Minneapolis, he pays close attention to the cars moving in the westbound lanes. "I see wall-to-wall cars and think about how there are three extra seats in most of those cars that could be carrying someone,...
FARGO – When Matthew Sullivan drives to Minneapolis, he pays close attention to the cars moving in the westbound lanes.
"I see wall-to-wall cars and think about how there are three extra seats in most of those cars that could be carrying someone," he said. "Then, I just see dollar signs."
Sullivan and his business partner, Jordan Nelson, are developing a new ride-share app called Jumpr. It is not just about money, though. It's about solving a transportation problem they both experienced while attending North Dakota State University.
Sullivan, a native of Hibbing, spent his first two years at at NDSU without a car. It wasn't a problem until he wanted to go home over break.
He would have to take a bus to Minneapolis, a different bus from there to Duluth, and then arrange a ride from there to Hibbing. In total, the trip would take about 16 hours. The alternative was to find other students from Hibbing or nearby to carpool.
Nelson owned a car, but he tried to line up passengers to help pay for gas to his hometown of Hebron, N.D.
They tried using carpooling Facebook pages, but Sullivan said the system was often unreliable.
How will it work?
On Jumpr, riders and drivers log into the website through a Facebook account.
Drivers post their destination, timetable, pickup location, vehicle information and cost.
Riders type a destination into a search bar. If they find a match, they click on the link to request a seat.
Drivers are then required to approve requests to complete the agreement. Once approved, the site collects a credit card payment from the rider. Jumpr withholds a 10 percent fee as well as a 2 percent credit card processing fee.
Safety and liability
All drivers are required to submit driver's license and insurance information to Jumpr in order to receive payment. Nelson said riders will also be able to review drivers based on their driving and the condition of the car so they will also be held accountable in that way.
Sullivan said determining if Jumpr faces any liability for facilitating the transaction has been difficult to determine because he is unaware of any similar business operating here.
"We're trying our best to follow the Airbnb model," he said. "They set up the service and do their best to ensure safety, but at the end of the day the user is responsible for their own well-being."
They are also researching any applicable laws. Sullivan said it would be wrong to categorize Jumpr drivers with Uber or taxicab drivers because they will mainly be college students looking to share in gas expense, not to earn money.
Jordan said they have gotten a great response to Jumpr so far. They were recently accepted into the Innovate North Dakota grant program and will present at Fargo's One Million Cups event next week. They hope to roll out the app for beta testing in December.
Sullivan said they want to build more than just an app; they want to "build a community or way of life."
It's one he thinks will be embraced by people his age. He said millennials tend to live longer without owning a car. They also typically go to universities that are further away from their hometown because they want to live and work in urban areas. He also believes the generation's eco-friendly lifestyle will make Jumpr attractive.