GoKid App Helps Busy Parents Connect and Share Carpooling Duties

GoKid, the carpooling app startup that went through the Techstars Mobility accelerator program in Detroit last summer, today unveiled a new enterprise version of its product for schools called GoKid Connect.

Based in the Motor City and New York City, GoKid is a mobile tool that allows parents to create and manage carpooling schedules. Parents can use the GoKid app to invite friends and family to carpool, share schedules, and arrange rides. The app’s features include automated notifications and updates, live tracking, route optimization, and mapping capabilities.

The company, founded in 2015, released a beta version of its iOS app last fall after completing Techstars, but GoKid founder and CEO Stefanie Lemcke says user feedback inspired her to create a separate version for schools accessible by any device via Web app. The team has also added features to the existing mobile app, which is now also available to Android users.

“We’ve seen usage increase like crazy,” Lemcke says. “We officially launched the mobile app last year, but we needed the Android version and a completely new school program, which came out of pilots we did in Detroit. Parents kept asking how to discover other parents interested in carpooling who lived nearby.”

With GoKid Connect, the company receives a list of parents from participating schools. Those parents are then contacted with a password-protected “token” that allows them to register and connect with other parents at the school interested in carpooling. (Those who don’t want their names on a list of potential carpoolers can opt out, Lemcke adds.) To participate in GoKid Connect, schools pay the company a one-time set-up charge and annual fee based on the size of their student bodies.

Once they’ve signed up, parents can filter the list of possible carpoolers according to vicinity, age of the children, and interests. For example, parents whose kids play on the same after-school soccer team could connect to share rides with only a few clicks, Lemcke says. GoKid Connect is going live this week in its first school, which is in Hillsborough, CA.

“Many of our requests come from California, but we have users in 25 countries and more than 600 cities,” Lemcke says. “So far, there have been about 55,000 total carpool rides scheduled on GoKid.”

Lemcke says there is conceivably a vast market for a product like GoKid, especially in places like Detroit where public transit is limited or dysfunctional. Nearly half of all U.S. schools do not have a dedicated bus system for daily transportation, she notes, and more than 32 million American kids are being ferried to and from school every single day by their parents. Lemcke says the result is more congestion on the roads, higher pollution, lost productivity for parents, and even decreased school attendance if there is an issue with the car or the parent can’t drive on a given day.

“We figure 40 to 50 percent of that [32 million] number are our potential customers,” Lemcke says. “That’s 15 to 20 million people in the U.S. alone. The potential to scale is definitely there.”

And the 10-person GoKid team is determined to scale. It has already raised $1.1 million from Techstars, Fontinalis Partners, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, and angel investors. In the coming year, the company is planning to seek partnerships with parent groups and youth sports organizations while pushing the rollout of GoKid Connect and trying to stay ahead of the competition.

“We do see competitors coming up, like HopSkipDrive, but they’re only in certain geographic areas or not quite the same,” Lemcke says. “In terms of features, we’re the market leader in the family carpooling space. For pure carpooling technologies, we’re the only ones raising money and going through Techstars. But we need to be fast, because you never know.”

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