OSU student Patrick Beal didn’t have a car on campus and the four-hour, round-trip drive each way was a bit much for his parents to make for every family event. (Not to mention the inability for a random foray off campus.)
Fellow student Brian Bachir had a car and traveled home frequently, accompanied by a row of empty seats and nobody to split gas money with. (Hello, college budget.)
“How do we get people in my situation to connect with people in Brian’s situation?” Beal asked.
The answer is Leap – a recently launched app connecting OSU students who need rides with students willing to give rides.
In its beta phase on iOS, Leap is available exclusively to OSU students. Students sign up with first and last name, gender and school, and must go through a verification process with their OSU email to ensure they are a student. Make it through that, and a user is introduced to a Twitter-style feed of rides.
A driver posts their route, say Columbus to Cleveland, and details like detour times, flexibility on departure time, and how far off route they are willing to go to drop someone off. The poster also shares how much they are after for a seat in their vehicle.
If a rider is interested, they click book ride and are directed to a one-on-one communication via OSU email to work out the final details.
“As of right now, the payment is handled outside the app,” Beal says.
The students work it out on their own based on the posted expectations, but he says it’s something that will eventually be incorporated into the app.
Leap benefits abound. Students gain mobility, parents save time, and there’s one less car on the road emitting CO2.
Beal says students have expressed a preference for carpools over an option like the bus, but, “The biggest surprise to me actually has been the parents.”
Now a senior with a car, Beal has completed a few trips of his own. For each student that he’s shuttled, he has waited for the parent handoff, and is often met with much gratitude and appreciation.
Grassroots efforts like physically standing on the oval and passing out information or enticing students with the opportunity to win cornhole boards for downloads or likes, have attracted around 200 students to Leap.
The growing pool of users have completed 12 trips since Leap’s launch in early September. Leap puts numbers around the environmental impact of each shared ride, estimating that those dozen trips have collectively saved 3,132 miles of driving, 135 gallons of gasoline, and 2,651 pounds of CO2.
More users means more rides means more savings, so for now Leap is largely focused on getting its name out there. In fact, building a solid user base has taken precedence over dollars. There’s no current monetization to the app, but Beal has a couple of strategies for future earnings.
“One would be to have service fees,” he says.
A rider pays a fee for booking a ride. That fee goes to continually developing the platform. Another option would be to partner with universities and allow them to use Leap’s service through a paid contractual agreement
It’s universities – plural – because after beta testing, Leap already has plans to scale. Beal says if this is a great opportunity to help at OSU, “Why limit ourselves? Why not try to help as many students and as many parents as we can?”
Leap has their sights set on Texas A&M, Penn State and Michigan State – large universities that resemble OSU’s enrollment. Seventy percent of OSU students live in-state, and campus is within easy driving distance of anywhere in Ohio. These other universities have not just a larges enrollments, but students from within the state as well.
For more information, visit leapthere.com.