By chance, Terry Goguen came across a question that got him thinking: If you could create an app, what would it be? Now, after a successful term at Middlebury participating in MiddEntrepeneurs, Terry teamed up with his younger sister, Katherine Goguen ’16. The pair have begun programming an app, JoyRide. Intended to promote safe driving, the app locks one’s phone and offers a reward system for not using it, encouraging users to stop texting and driving and hopefully saving lives.
Katherine Goguen explained, “A couple towns over from mine, there were two separate occasions when a 17 year-old and a 18 year-old lost their lives due to texting. For me it seems like such a relevant issue, and I want to be part of a movement to help solve it.”
MiddEntrepreneurs enabled the pair to realize this desire. The course, which Terry took during his junior year, is student-taught and intended as a platform for young entrepreneurs to start their own business or non-profit organization. At the end of the month, students pitch their ideas to about ten venture capitalists and investors.
The app targets teenagers and young adults, however, texting and driving is a problem that spans all ages. JoyRide will lock the driver’s screen for the time period they choose and reward the participants for each mile they drive phone-free. This way, drivers have a positive incentive to not look at their phone, a critical aspect that distinguishes JoyRide from similar apps available. Others will simply lock phones or even notify drivers’ parents. However, JoyRide is free and through encouraging rewards will, hopefully, encourage healthy habits.
To increase incentive, the Goguens want to get businesses on board, who will pledge to give coupons or some reward for users. For example, after driving phone-free for a certain distance, one could potentially earn a free coffee or get a coupon.
Currently, the sibling duo is in the process of raising money and spreading awareness. Terry says they have created a website which includes the mission statement and a video to “gauge people’s interest, so I can go to a company and say this many people signed up and would be interested in it when I launch the app.”
Katherine explained, “Something [Terry and I] both agreed upon was not asking my family for funding, because we wanted to do it on our own.” Terry is meeting with various businesses to gain support and is even planning on meeting with senators and state legislatures from Vermont to discuss funding.
Terry explains, “It costs $15,000 to come up with the app [design] plus other fees, so I’m hoping by the summer we will be able to pay the developer.”
Katherine added, “Even if the app only saved one life, I would feel like it had done its purpose. [It] is about creating healthy habits for drivers and incentivizing safe driving.”
Katherine went on to say, “We want people to be involved, and we are looking for anyone who will tell us their story or support us… it will only be as successful as how many people know about it so spreading the word is key.”
You can read about the app and get an idea of what it will look like online at www.joyrideapp.io.