Innovator Profile: Stefanie Lemcke, Co-Founder, GoKid

When it comes to carpooling, there’s a new kid on the block. GoKid is a new mobile app designed to take something that’s already happening – parents taking turns driving kids to soccer practice or school – and make the process easier and more efficient. The app is the latest entrant into a growing market of shared mobility services targeted to the needs of young families.

GoKid Co-Founder Stefanie Lemcke will discuss her new service at the national shared mobility summit Move Together on September 28-30 in Chicago. For more information, or to register, click here.

The following is a lightly edited version of the Shared-Use Mobility Center’s conversation with Stefanie Lemcke.

How does GoKid work?

Let’s say your daughter has soccer practice on Mondays and Wednesdays. Instead of driving her yourself or taking the time to make arrangements with other parents, you can just create a GoKid carpool. You enter your daughter’s name, the days and times of her practice, and the pickup and drop-off locations. You can then volunteer for certain slots and invite other parents to join the carpool. They’ll get an alert to join and select slots of their own. Once the carpool is full, you get a notification.

When it’s your turn to drive, you get an alert on your phone – OK it’s time to leave! You can then access the map functionality to see who you need to pick up and where. The other parents in the carpool can track your progress on the app and will get a notification when their kids have arrived at the final destination.

How did you come up with the idea?

[GoKid Co-Founder] Sophia Koven and I both lived in New York City. We used to walk everywhere or take transit. Then we moved with our families to Connecticut and suddenly we were driving all the time. It was like ‘Oh God, this is terrible.’

Carpooling presented a solution, but it wasn’t perfect. From our experience, it can take 30 to 40 emails to set up a regular carpool. We knew there had to be a better way. So we started building the app in February. Right now we’re in private beta. Around 90 percent of the functions are live and we’re expecting to launch in the IOS app store this fall.

What makes GoKid unique?

There are other carpooling apps out there, but most are focused on mid to long-distance travel. Our focus is specifically parents who make regularly scheduled, short trips. Essentially, we’re taking the same parents who are making these trips anyway and just adding more kids to the car. Also, you will be able to use the app in any region as soon as it’s out, which is nice. You don’t need a certain level of density – you can invite three friends and get started.

We are also not the typical founders of a tech start-up. We’re both parents, and we bring a lot of experience to the project. I’ve been consulting in tech and innovation since I first moved to the U.S. 10 years ago.

Why are the long-term implications of a product like GoKid?

One of our overall goals is to reduce traffic. There are a lot of cities with congestion problems, where parents are just stuck in traffic for hours. According to our research, 30 percent of traffic in the morning and afternoon in many communities is just from driving kids to or from schools or extracurricular activities.

Our hope is that once parents see how easy it is and how much time they save, they will make carpooling more of a habit. And that goes beyond driving kids. For instance, we could see it being used by commuters as well.

What are you looking forward to at the conference?

We would love to hear from others who are looking into new concepts like this. It would be also be great to meet cities that might be interested in partnering in some way.