by Y Combinator8/2/2016
GoGoGrandparent is an automated hotline that lets older adults use on-demand services without a smartphone. Their first product gives older adults access to Uber and Lyft. Founders, David Lung and Justin Boogaard, sat down with us to talk about how they’re helping older adults reclaim their independence.
What YC Likes about GoGoGrandparent:
“GoGoGrandparent is solving an important problem for an aging population. Staying independent is deeply important to seniors, and the service Justin and David have built allows them to stay on their own and autonomous. At YC, we love founders who are not only solving a problem they know intimately, but also are also taking advantage of modern technology and services while making life significantly better for their customers.”
– Geoff Ralston, Partner at Y Combinator
YC : How did you come up with the idea for GoGoGrandparent? Justin: I lived with my grandma Betty for three years while David and I were working on our last startup. One day, I used Uber to get to dinner and she also had an event she had to go to, so she asked for Uber’s phone number. I had to explain to her that Uber didn’t have a phone number. She jokingly told me to be useful and go make that.
A few days later, I lied to her and told her that my friend built something like this called Grand. We spent $6 on a card and sent it to her with the number on it. The next week, she reads the card to us and tells us she might use it. Two days later, she calls the number and says wants to go to the movie theater and I basically answer and pretend to be Josh Fitzgerald, CEO of Grand.
Then, we just manually called Uber with our smartphone and got her a ride. Grandma Betty brought a friend and told her about it. Then she told everyone at her bridge club and more people kept calling. So we just automated the entire process and decided to work on it full-time.
YC : Can you walk me through how it works?
David: You register with us and then if you want to get picked up from home, you just call our number and press 1. A car will come within 15 minutes and take you wherever you need to go. When you’re ready to go home, you call the number again and press 2 and we’ll send a car to your last location then take you home.
You can also press 0 if you want to talk to an operator, which means they get to talk to us.
YC : That’s so simple. How have users responded?
Justin: They tell us that we really hit the nail on the head. A lot of older adults don’t know how to use a smartphone and they don’t want to spend $600 on it just to access on-demand services.
Giving them access to transportation gives them a chance to do a lot of things they couldn’t have done before. We have this one customer, Jon, who goes everywhere. He goes to the pier, to bars, and to Cal State Long Beach every day for an art and design class. He’s 91 years old. Our oldest user is 97, but she sounds like she’s 87 (laughter).
YC : Did you have to explain Uber Pool?
Justin: We actually get a decent number of users who are confined to a wheelchair. We text the driver in advance and ask if they’re ok with transporting someone in a wheelchair. It’s kind of interesting because they self-select into being really awesome. For the ones who are not comfortable, we’ll just request another ride. But the ones who are okay with it are extremely good. When was the last time an Uber driver opened the door for you?
YC : Never.
Justin: Right? But it happens all the time with us. I think it’s this innate instinct to take care of older adults. Or at least for people that self-select into doing it.
YC : Why hasn’t anyone built this before?
Justin: The concept of Uber and Lyft hasn’t been as ubiquitous as it is now. My grandma would have thought I was nuts for getting into a car with strangers. But now it’s pretty normal.
YC : What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the demographic you’re building for?
Justin: I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t lived with my grandma for so long, but older adults honestly don’t want to admit they’re less mobile. They just think everything is stiff and it’ll go away if they move around. But it’s been great because with GoGoGrandparent, they’re still able to have independence and mobility rather than staying at home all the time.
It really ties into the health component. Studies reveal that the less you move the faster you deteriorate.
YC : Where do you see this going?
David: Long-term we’d like to become a concierge for all the services you need after you turn 80.
We want to tailor all these on-demand services to be senior-specific. Groceries, food, and medicine delivery are requests we hear often from our users. There are a bunch of things that seniors can’t eat but we can select sodium-free options or glucose-free options, and they can still have food delivered to them.
Justin: Another thing we’re experimenting with is check-ins. When my grandma Betty gets into an Uber, my mom gets a text letting her know that Betty just got dropped off at a certain location. It really helps the family stay connected.
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