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Is a carpooling site (s) worth the development?

With the price of gas skyrocketing - will there be a continued market?

     
3:48 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hello,

My company is meeting (second) with investors today to talk further about building multiple carpooling web sites - is this worth the development and investment. We have the business plan and research has been completed; however I am hesitant because I know very little about carpooling (more about hospitality). I'd like them to invest in another project that I know more about; however convincing them will be difficult.

My one site is successful - especially when the media interviews me. We see a huge influx of new members. But, I'm still not convinced that this (gas crisis) is long term. In addition, how can I get visitors to the site "just" to visit. I don't want a social site - just simple and to the point.

Thanks.

[edited by: digitalghost at 1:35 pm (utc) on July 10, 2008]

6:36 pm on July 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Fuel will always be an issue as long as we rely on it. Now that the prices of fuel are significantly affecting our society, awareness of this issue is growing. I think you can find a market for something on this.
7:42 pm on July 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I know there's a market; however how do I keep them coming back once a carpooler is found? I'm using WordPress for a more simplified site and I'm hoping to stay away from the social site look (e.g., facebook etc).
4:17 pm on July 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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George. Great idea, at least IMHO -- I would say your success depends heavily on your geographical target. Anyone in the U.S., at least that I know, who carpools has found the person through word of mouth. People at work, neighbors, friend of a friend, etc. People who have some sort of rapport before ever carpooling together. Probably built on the fear of unfamiliar faces.

However, I was backpacking in Australia for the second half of 2006. Such a site would have had many repeat visitors as hitching a ride with fellow foreigners/travellers is a standard method of travelling. All you would need to do to get such a site to run wild there is get the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) to put a link from their homepage to yours. Most of the people were depending upon paper message boards and standing around in the parking lot. An easy, well organized system would take over in days...no joke.

Back to the U.S., I am not convinced that enough people consider carpooling a viable option even if gas prices stay high. I just don't know if our "individualism" will allow enough people to share...a sorry assessment of our society, but thats how I see it.

6:33 pm on July 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Great reply and very true! I have a carpool buddy site that can be directed worldwide; however the individual city sites have a more personable touch and feel.

Thanks again and I look forward to more of your brilliant ideas.

1:28 pm on July 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I know there's a market; however how do I keep them coming back once a carpooler is found?

The same could be said for dating sites, do you need them to be coming back ?

I think its a good idea, lends itself to some web 2.0, but theres a 1 or 2 hurdles and big design decisions that you need to get right for it to work, I would seek a an entrepeneur with deep pockets.

6:15 pm on July 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I know there's a market; however how do I keep them coming back once a carpooler is found?

There are many reasons why people would come back. Not all car pooling partners work out. People change jobs or move, job or personal schedules change. Two people in a car pool may want a 3rd for even more savings.
8:03 pm on July 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I love these excellent replies!

HugeNerd offered an excellent solution and it is true - Americans (including me) are not used to carpooling. My one site is saving some registered users hundreds of $$ and I have the letters to prove it.

Taking HugeNerd advice and I have purchased a ride share domain that is a top level domain and it was available. It's .net and the .com is parker.

My investors have committed to $5,000; however I'll need much more to move forward and I may have found two more with deeper pockets.

11:53 pm on July 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree I think this is a great idea and I know of several great programs that are out there. I think the main hurdles would be catching up to established sites and getting a wide enough adoption to make it worth while to come to the site. When I used such sites in the past, it was hard to find matches that had similar routes. I know there are people with them, but they weren't on the site.
8:57 am on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I would be very concerned about basing it on Wordpress. You almost certainly need a custom programmed system.
12:33 pm on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Actually - it works very well and secure. I have mulled over other options; however I like it and it continues to work flawless. :)
4:05 pm on July 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Are you servicing the Chicagoland area? I'd love to carpool just so I had someone to talk to while I sat in traffic on the Eisenhower for 2+ hours each day. I drive a small v4 car and, due to traffic, never really get above 45mph, so gas consumption isn't my biggest concern. Not to mention that the networking I could achieve by having a captive audience for such long stretches could be amazing...I also see potential for a combined dating/carpooling site if users post pictures :o)
4:38 pm on July 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Not dating - no way. Not a good mix and too much liability. That market (dating) is saturated.

I too your advice and I'm setting up an international "post a ride" net site. It will be in 10 different languages and folks will have the opportunity to post the need for a ride (e.g., Melbourne to Sydney, Buffalo to Miami) etc. However, I'll need to find a plugin for Wordpress that will allow people to be notified via cell phone of replies to Postings.

In addition, I have set my member level to Contributor. Everyone can post and edit their Post (s) even after it is approved.

As always - thanks.

4:39 pm on July 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I *took (not too) your advice ...
2:12 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I didn't actually mean for you to combine a dating and carpooling site...it was more of wishful thinking on my part!
2:31 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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LOL.
5:40 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I didn't actually mean for you to combine a dating and carpooling site...it was more of wishful thinking on my part!

Hmm, maybe combining a carpooling and adult-themed dating site...
6:34 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Death by spamming, endless spamming, would be a first concern for such a site since it would be the type of website that would only work if it could handle vast daily volumes of short posts.

OBTW, speaking of vast daily volumes of short posts, is this something that CraigsList already offers or could easily add to their offerings?

7:48 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Craig's List? Probably; however with my site's valid email is only needed.

Many carpooling sites require a lengthly registration process and my sites do not. I could force further information - but there's really no need since we (my sites) are not setting registered users up for rides. All registered users make the initial contact (s) and decisions. We suggest trail periods.

My business adviser (Ph.D Computer Science and Marketing) suggest that this approach (WordPress) is cost effective and secure. In addition, he likes the business model that I put together.

Our plan is simple and straightforward - no nonsense and less complications. The more required information the more complicated and you may have to explain why you need all that information.

Thanks