Enhancing Independence for Older Adults through Innovative Ride-Sharing Service

Sgogo_logo_blackocial good can come from businesses addressing an unmet need or offering an advancement that improves access to beneficial opportunities. Or sometimes, it can combine these ideals even while addressing an underserved group or community.  GoGoGrandparent, manages to achieve all of this by providing an automated hotline that lets older adults use on-demand ride sharing services Uber and Lyft without needing a smartphone.

Many older adults decline social opportunities in the evening because they are uncomfortable driving at night.  Or they hesitate to go someplace new if they are unfamiliar with the route.  Or perhaps, they are reluctant to impose on friends or family to manage their basic errands or appointments.  Yet they often shy away from use of app-based ride-sharing services either because of a fear of the unknown or a lack of access to the technology.

Grandma calls for a ride without smartphone

Grandma using flip phone to call for a ride

For about half the price of a taxi, GoGoGrandparent tailors the ride-sharing experience for older adults, making arrangements from a simple phone call and handling the rest for them.  Operators call to let them know a driver is coming (including the name, car, etc.) and will even text a family member, adding a measure of convenience and comfort. Many features are built into their model to keep the process straight-forward for users, inspiring trust that enables senior adults to use the service with confidence.

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A business that fills an important need and helps people is an “organic” social good.

The activities for which people use this service – going to hair salons, bridge clubs, family gatherings, and night-time events – encourages social engagement and longevity.  Studies, including this one from Psychology Today, consistently underscore this connection; when people get out in the world and remain connected to friends and family, they have longer, more fulfilling lives. By addressing the needs of this underserved community, GoGoGrandparent serves a social purpose, reinforcing the notion that doing something with purpose can also be a great business opportunity.

 

Filling a niche is key, but so is a smart business plan that lays the groundwork carefully and meets its target market where they are.

Founder Justin Boogaard first conceived the business based on observations from living with his grandmother.  However, he quickly discovered that many others were interested, enough so that he began testing ways he and his partners could customize the ride-sharing experience in a broader way.  He contacted Uber and worked with them to develop a customized programmable interface.

While they began, like so many others, on a strictly word-of-mouth basis, they eventually produced brochures that could be shared with friends. Attempts at direct mail fell short, as this demographic tends to rely on the endorsement or referral effect more than most. So they focus on distribution of post cards and flyers through senior centers, doctors’ offices, retirement communities and the like.  When addressing how his target market informs the way he promotes the business, Mr. Boogaard says, “We take it back to 1949, and do those things!” They stick to printed materials (often “snail”- mailed upon request) and an intuitive website, both with very clear, minimalist content.

See how they’ve managed to convey simplicity, trust, and service on their website.

If you have a socially responsible business success story to share, contact RBR Founder Diane Bucka to arrange an interview.