By Jerry Liu
The Tow-Knight Report What Works: An Overview of Successful Site Models points out content strategy should be integrated with revenue strategy to build successful sites. Finding specific audience and potential advertisers is the key for the sustainable development of a site in a long-run.
My startup idea is creating a carpooling mobile application. The target audience is MSU students and East Lansing residents particularly. This business model is based on a win-win situation that registered drivers whose cars with available seats could earn some money by picking up other people, and passengers could use this application during rush-hour traffic with a relatively lower rate than cab and Uber’s. The potential challenge is how to manage the registered drivers appropriately and protect each passenger’s safety.
Creating various unique features is really important for the success of our carpooling app because we need to differentiate our product with Uber and other similar product.
First of all, we could design a reservation section to help passengers schedule trip with drivers in advance so that they could set up pick-up time & location, destination, number of passengers and vacant seats, and special request & notice.
Furthermore, we may set up the current rate based on a dynamic pricing model which depends on the market demand and supply so the carpool price will be determined by how many available cars on the streets including our competitors’ and how many passengers are waiting for a ride.
Last but not least, this app could also incorporate social networking feature. Drivers and passengers could fill out their personal information such as, school year, major, hobbies and interests, etc. So passengers may see driver’s basic information by clicking the car icon on the screen and you could also chat with drivers if you want. More importantly, passengers and drivers could share their carpooling experiences with others right on the app in your friend circle.
It’s kind of a niche digital platform that goes deep into one subject but could serve a wide geographic area in the future. We could expand our market to a larger geographic area for instance, mid-Michigan area, or Lansing-Ann Arbor-Detroit area to attract more potential advertisers. Our product’s potential advertisers may include local restaurants, local car dealerships and local events, etc.
In a word, the crucial ways to build a successful and sustainable digital platform are creating a content and revenue strategy that matches your community’s needs, your advertiser’s marketing strategy and your own strengths and weaknesses. I am confident that this carpooling app has the potential to be finally launched because MSU is a really big market with huge demand and the app can create a great product/market fit.