Customer Research - ride-tandem/Tandem Wiki
There exist plenty of chats where people are looking for rides (those requesting normally don't have cars).
People who do have cars are normally not using the chats, but they are carpooling. These people often are working out amongst themselves any monetary transactions of trades for food.
Some places that people are going (outdoor activities) have roads that are not in the best condition or are gravel roads. In these cases a car that can handle the terrain is important and the person who's vehicle can handle it will drive.
The main pains that people are having is arranging rides, how to share the burden of driving, and the uncertainty of people showing up on time or even at all. There is a feeling of obligation, as a passenger, to compensate the rider or else their "bumming" a ride. There is worry about if someone is available on the days the passenger needs and ride. For the most part, people are looking for a way to organize a group that completes repeat trips. Carpooling with one other person is often easier since there is less coordination required.
A key difference in pain was identified. People with no cars looking for people with cars vs. people with cars looking to share the burden of driving.
Some important positive were also identified. It is a fun social experience to carpool. Lots of positive memories of laughing and having a good time when carpooling. Carpooling reduces emissions.
Some features people would like to see include who is available to drive on a given day, who is driving, where they're driving, and when they're driving. Also where to pick people up, who to pick up first and how to optimize this route. Keeping some kind of record to track how the driving has been balanced and if people are contributing equally (either in also driving or in monetary contribution). Finally, a feature for selecting a designated driver for a night out was also mentioned as a desired feature.
People said that they would pay for this app, but not very much money. Either 3.99 once or 1.49 a month if the features implemented were really solving all their pains.
It seems that many people are casually organizing commuting, but there is no structure and it's very circumstance based. From the people I talked to, most of them plan carpooling when they happen to see each other in person or just go by themselves and hope to see friends at their destination.
The main pain-point for carpooling is the organization between passengers and drivers. The passengers feel guilty asking a driver for a free ride so the drivers (even those who are more than happy to give a friend a ride) often don't know that other people are trying to complete the same journey as them. It's also difficult to plan the exact duration of a trip such as planning to be on the ski hill for 5 hours before returning.
The passengers' main concerns were about safety, since they don't want to get in a car with a complete stranger and feeling a burden of guilt over not contributing for a ride.
People without cars reported feeling uncomfortable asking for rides, and declined invitations to events outside of transit range because of this. They also mentioned being discouraged at having to bus or walk to a meetup location and then drive to an event. A passenger noted that if they had a car, they would want to be able to offer rides to people because of their experience having needed rides.
The lack of accessibility to nature for hiking or other activities with transit, especially when bringing a bike or kayak, was mentioned as a high pain point.
It was also stated by one respondent that if the only benefit was organizing a ride amongst friends, they would not pay for that. They were also aware of some community organizations that organized rides for events but had never participated because of the pandemic and the effort involved in contacting and joining an event.
Some drivers that I have talked to who own vehicles were willing to carpool, especially when they are travelling longer distance (e.g. drive up to Nanaimo), as long as they get some rewards, like gas money, food or coffee from the passengers. Their main pain points were it is often awkward to ask passengers to "contribute". And often organizing over chatroom takes too much time, since there is a lot of back-and-forth texting. And it is hard to find necessary information over previous chats (e.g. who's being picked up where).
Interstingly, most drivers' concern was not just safety but also cleanness of the car after carpooling.
Monetization Scheme Research
Several concerns were raised with a subscription model that everybody has to pay. First, it doesn't allow for organizations to pay the entirety of the cost to run a group (such as a UVic club or a Tofino surf shop). Also, the ownership is put in question when everybody pays equally. For example, who gets to decide which people are accepted to the group? At this point, these questions aren't answered.
Somebody purposed an interesting idea of slightly increasing the subscription price and allowing paying users to "sponsor" a new user so they don't have to pay.
Concerns with having one person always being responsible for paying the entirety of the server cost. The server boosting idea is popular.
Didn't find much interest in extra features like push notifications, however there was interest in a custom theme for a price.
A donation system after a ride is complete was suggested. Just like free tax return software asking for donation at the end of tax return process, the users might be more willing to donate a small amount of money if the process was satisfying. It seems like people are willing to donate a small amount of money when the ride was smooth & they got the contributions from the passengers. Most people agreed that for small groups(<20 people), they would not pay more than $5 per month.
People were willing to pay for a subscription if the cost was cheap enough (around $1.50). Thought premium features were helpful but doesn't think that traffic was a valuable addition.