The Big Idea: Put Free Rides on the Moon
Gotcha Group is a mobility-as-a-service company that creates customized, eco-friendly transportation solutions for colleges, cities, and major brands around the country. In addition to their successful bike sharing programs, they recently launched Gotcha Ride, a fully electric micro-transit service that offers on-demand, fixed-route, and special event transportation. After seeing great initial traction, Gotcha Group realized they had an opportunity to grow this new vehicle service. They were ready to create a web and mobile app that would make Gotcha Ride more accessible and scalable.
The Challenge: Houston, We have a Problem
Like many of our clients, the team at Gotcha Group is primarily non-technical, but their idea was a major technical request. Gotcha wanted to be “the Uber of college campuses”, quite literally. Uber has hundreds of engineers, many years, (and millions of dollars) to create their product. Gotcha needed similar features and functionality, but on a much smaller budget and much shorter timeline.
We weren't Gotcha's first agency hire. They'd been through it all. Over budget projects, lack of communication, missed deadlines. They were on their last straw, and had their own customers getting VERY unhappy that this project wasn't finished.
Enter Launchpeer. Gotcha Group was excited to find Launchpeer when they found out we had experience developing apps just like theirs, and it wouldn’t cost them Uber’s budget. After hopping on a quick information call, Gotcha Group knew we could provide them the lean startup perspective they needed, and Launchpeer would be just the right advisor and partner to take their idea to the next level.
“Launchpeer has been nothing but awesome to work with! They immediately understood exactly what we were trying to build, and offered suggestions to solve problems we hadn't even thought of yet. They went above and beyond during each step of the design & development process, and our entire team is excited to continue the relationship with all our future tech needs.”
- Griffin Blackwelder, VP at Gotcha
Drafting the Blueprint
As with most projects, we got to work on our kick-off call. We worked with Gotcha to decide which features were essential, versus which were “nice to have,” and helped them create their true MVP. Consistently Launchpeer’s aim is to assist our clients in thinking strategically about their technology, rather than build a bunch of fancy features just to increase the bill.
First, Gotcha Ride needed a mobile app for passengers that was easy-to-use while being robust with technical features. The UI needed to show passengers the first available vehicle, display the route, and send travel, pick-up, and drop-off notifications. Uber spends a lot of time working on app performance to handle this, so we knew we needed a lighter weight solution that would be reliable and minimize both downtime and maintenance.
On the other hand, the driver application would require an entirely different UX design that was clean and simple. Drivers can’t spend time navigating menus and work requests while driving, so we needed to create a design that could exist on a just a few screens, while also including all the necessary functionality required to start, maintain, and complete a trip.
In addition, Gotcha Ride works with advertisers like colleges and major corporations. From Gotcha Group’s marketing perspective, the app needed to show advanced vehicle details, like colors and brand logos.
Lastly, the app would require a web application for an admin portal. The key functionality of the web portal was for administrators of the rideshare program to define the service area (like the perimeters of a college campus), add or remove drivers, add new vehicles, and edit branding. We had our work cut out for us.
Building the Rocketship
Gotcha Group was ready roll, since they had already run a pilot group and had brands and campuses waiting for the app’s release. Launchpeer had a 12-week development timeline, so every single sprint had to be organized, laser-focused, and well-executed. We knew development would need to be broken down into Version 1 and Version 2 releases, and we need to make sure those versions focused on the essentials of building a working app.
Launchpeer has always emphasized a transparent process, and it played a major role in making Gotcha Ride successful. At the end of every 2-week sprint, our development team would quality check and then demo what we’d built for the team at Gotcha Ride. And in-between those demos, we stayed in direct contact through Slack, share updates and answer questions. Gotcha Group gave us feedback in real-time and we could keep the design process iterative and moving forward.
For passengers, our dev team created an interface that kept its users engaged. Because Gotcha drivers could accept up to 3 trips at once, but were not required to pick them up in any specific order, we couldn’t give passengers a standard estimate for time of arrival. Our dev team had to come up with a creative way to keep the user engaged that wasn’t “your trip will be here in 6 minutes”. Instead, we built in constant status updates, like “Ride accepted”, “On the way”, Dropped off another passenger nearby”, as well as the ability for passengers to track their ride on the map.
The driver application had to stay clean and simple. The dev team created a “Ride Request” list view and a “My Rides” list view that drivers could easily swipe between. Our team also designed a card view for each ride request and added button below the card for the driver to easily update the status of the ride for waiting passengers. The buttons remained large and were accompanied by an image of the mapped route and name of the passengers. All of this allowed the driver to stay on one screen and ensure they complete every step of the trip.
Lastly, the admin web portal had to serve a variety of purposes for administrators at varying levels of accessibility. At the highest level, Gotcha Group Admins needed to manage the branded ridesharing programs at different campuses and organizations. Our dev team added a color picker and user-friendly forms that could be maintained by anyone on the team at Gotcha Group. There also needed to be sub-Admins for each location who could define their Gotcha Ride service area. Our team created a geo-fencing system with easy-to-use mapping tools that allowed sub-Admins to edit and maintain there service areas, without the assistance of a software developer.
After 12 weeks, we had a passenger app in iOS and Android, and driver app in iOS and Android, and a web application for admins and sub-admins. Gotcha Ride was ready to roll.
Mission Control, We are Ready for Launch
Gotcha Ride had tons of sales meetings lined up right after launch, so we had to make sure every single feature worked smoothly. We tested a lot. This was a complicated app, so we had to make sure every type of use-case was covered and tested. Once we were ready, we pushed to production, launching 5 applications in total.