Helping People Plan Better Car Trips
2011 has shaped up to be an exciting year for us at C2G. We began the year with a great deal of TV coverage coinciding with the spike in gas prices.
TV Coverage of Cost2Drive.com
Then in late spring we decided to apply to the NYC TechStars incubator program and spent a few thrilling weeks heading to New York to interface with the TeschStars team and fellow entrepreneurs. It was a wonderful experience and though we didn’t make the final cut, we all felt great about making it to the round of 30 out over 1,000 applicants. We always felt we had something special and its seems the world is beginning to take notice.
As part of the TechStars application process we began to share our broader vision of where we are going with our flagship application Cost2Drive. We introduced a new company name (CarTripper) which better reflects our mission of helping people plan better car trips. We’ll be sharing more on this in the coming months, but you can get a glimpse of this new vision as part of a new competition we’re involved with on Bloomberg TV. Bloomberg TV is working with TechStars on a number of initiatives including an upcoming TV series that chronicles the 11 startups accepted into the NYC winter program.
They are also hosting a contest on Facebook for the best startup ideas, which is where we come in. We were just notified by Bloomberg that we’ve been selected as one of five finalists for this week’s competition (week #2). At the end of the week (seven days from August 10th) the winner will be selected for Week #2 and will then move on to the next round to compete with all the weekly winners.
You can get a glimpse of our expanded vision for CarTripper by viewing the video we submitted to TechStars as part of the application process. The video is available on the Bloomberg TV Facebook page in this special section created for TechStars (note: you’ll need to ‘like’ the page to be able to view the video and vote).
We have some exciting product releases right around the bend that we’ll be sharing more news on soon. Meanwhile if you like where we’re headed with CarTripper let us know by voting for us in this Bloomberg TV – TechStars startup competition.
My route Obsession
Several years ago as I was planning a car trip for me, my wife and teenage son from Washington, DC to Sarasota, FL, I faced the all-too-common challenge of trying to figure out where to stop along the route. Using Google maps I plotted out the route and then eye-balled some of the likely stopover points based on the larger names that appeared on the map. Hmmm, Savannah, GA always sounded like a neat place to visit, lets make that one of the stops. None of the other names incited any interest and so it took a good bit of research to finally settle on St. Augustine, Florida for our other stopover. We’d stop at St. Augustine on the way down and Savannah on the return trip to DC.
I remember thinking that this was a rather inefficient way to plan a trip, and that there must be many great cities to visit and sites and attractions to see along this route (besides of course South of the Border).
The problem then occurred to me; driving directions have blinders on. They don’t illuminate all the great possibilities along a route. Even though some sites like AAA TripTiks and MapQuest are attempting to solve this problem, they have no sensitivity to distance so they serve up the same information whether you’re traveling 2 miles or 2,000. This has implications on many fronts, and so it seemed like a very worthwhile problem to solve. Thus began what I now refer to as my route obsession.
When you look at our flagship site Cost2Drive.com, you’ll see evidence of this type of thinking. For example, when a user enters a route we surface the cheapest flight found on Kayak for that route, but only if its over 200 miles in distance (it’s distance-sensitive). We also view routes not as simple origin-destination pairs (a very flight-centric view of the world) but as a corridor with many wonderful things to see and do in between. For example, we plot out the refueling points along the way, not only to identify the cheapest gas prices at those points, but as a visual cue to users of where they’ll likely need to stop. The trip-planning process logically unfolds from there.
This is all enabled by the Galculator, our route-aware technology that powers all of the C2G applications. With hundreds of startups focusing on location-based targeting, we see a vast new frontier emerging in a related field, one that we call route-based targeting. We feel we’ve only scratched the surface on this exciting opportunity, and as the peak summer travel season approaches you’ll see some more examples of how we’re feverishly working to remove the blinders from driving directions, both for travelers and advertisers alike.