With the multitude of after-school activities, the growing number of families where both parents work full time and ever increasing traffic, carting your kids around to every event may seem like a Sisyphean task. An app being tested by Redmond, Wash.-based Labs108 aims to solve parents’ transportation frustrations by building a community of carpoolers.
SkoolCommute is most easily described as Uber for Kids, but it not quite that simple. Instead of paying a stranger to come pick up your child, you use the app to tap the network of your child’s friends’ parents.
Labs108 co-founder Anuja Singh said she built the app to make sure that parents’ busy schedules didn’t keep kids from taking part in after-school activities. She cited the example of her own family running into scheduling conflicts that kept their kids from taking part in activities, simply because of a conflict on one day a week.
“One day kept us from enrolling them in a class,” she said.
Parents set up carpools by submitting a ride request to their group of trusted contacts, or other parents who are chosen by the user. The trusted contacts see the start and end points of the trip and can accept it. Unlike Uber, the rides are best scheduled a little bit in advance to make sure a ride is available.
SkoolCommute aims to make it easier for kids to get around in a world where the limiting factor of many kids’ activities is the ability to get them there. And by leveraging networks that may already exist, the company is trying to make it safer than existing ride-sharing options. Parents can track their child’s ride, so they know when their child arrives home or at an activity, and the trusted networks are self-selected so each parent controls who can drive their child around.
Labs108 is an education-focused consulting firm. They built SkoolCommute as a non-profit initiative, with no plans to charge for the service, according to Singh. Instead, the business is supported by the development of apps for themselves and other firms. Labs108 was founded last year by Singh—a former Microsoft employee—and Deepak Agarwal, an early Nook developer and former development leader at Samsung and Nokia.
The first public SkoolCommute community is coming online later this month at a private school in Redmond. Singh’s son goes to the school, so she’s expecting to see a lot of feedback about the app and see directly how it performs in the real world.
In the future, Singh says they will work with schools and parent-teacher associations to bring the service to more users. The system can be set up quickly, but getting parents acquainted with the system can take time. Singh said reassuring communities of the safety of the site is an important step for the success of the app. Users can request SkoolCommute for their community through the SkoolCommute site.