Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ideas to Google (Part III) - Google CarPool Portal

This is the third part of my series of articles published with the intention of "selling" my ideas to Google and subsequently to be recruited by Google. By the way did anyone from Google notice my blog .... ?

My third idea is the Google CarPool Portal, my contribution to make our earth greener. I admit this idea is not new as there already many CarPool portals on the web. I visited some of portals, and have yet to come across a portal that I consider a successful one. Most of portals I visited have been inactive for a long time, and for those still consider active, I only see an average one or two posts of interested looking for carpool partner per week. In my opinions, some of the reasons why such portals fail.

1) Lack of big marketing push - Success of this kind of portal is pretty much depends on users participation, the more user participate, the better. Most of the portals I visited are run by personal or community, and usually only have limited funds for Marketing.

2) Poor Location Selection - Most of CarPool portal offers only limited origin/destination selection, and often limited to zip code selection, which in my opinion, it's not comprehensive and customizable enough.

3) Poor user interface - Due to budget problem, most portal offer very basic UI for user to locate CarPool Partner.

4) Lack of incentive to do so, let's admit that, people are motivated when awarded by something.

So how can Google help?
Well, if Google do roll out a CarPool Portal, we already iron out our first problem, and if Google adopt my second idea, we solve our fourth problems. Thus, we only needs to deliver a fairly easy to use CarPool Portal to solve problems 2 and 3.

Here's my vision of Google CarPool Portal:
1. Upon login to Google CarPool Portal, user could post one or many CarPool adv, specifying travel origin, and destination using Google Earth/Google Map, where user could specify the location up to street address, or select buildings (such as office building) from Google Earth/Map. User could also entered their prefer travel time slot (e.g From 7-7.30am), and repeat of the travel (e.g Everyday excepts Weekends, once only).

2. Google will attempt to find closer match per CarPool adv, and will present user a list of adv that matches user's CarPool criteria. User could sort the list by origin, destination and travel time slot. User will get notify via Gmail on every new match found when they are not online.

3. While browsing the CarPool match list, if the match adv owner is online, user could chat (via Google Chat) to the owner to seal the deal. Else, user will have to send a private message to the adv owner, and schedule a time to discuss the CarPool adv

4. User and adv owner identity are protected throughout the conversation. The only way for user to communicate with adv owner is via private messages, and online chat from CarPool portal. Is up to the user, and adv owner when is best time to reveal their identity.

5. Once both parties agree to seal to deal, the adv will close. User and adv owner have the option to claim Google Earth points from the Car portal. Also, for security reason, user could opt on telling the portal when the CarPool going to start, who is driving, the Car Plate number, identity of both parties. This is to protect user in case of any unwanted accidents.

6. There is a forum for users to post FAQ, success stories, experiences, and etc.

7. There is also a running counter from Google CarPool Portal main page showing how many Carpools adv being seals, how many petrol has been save, and most importantly, how many CO2 is save from emitted to the air.

So, what do u think? do share me your thoughts on the comments page, stay tune for my next idea.

PS: As always, if anyone (perhaps Yahoo Inc.) find these ideas interesting and wants to further build up those ideas, do drop me an email.


John M said...

That would be nice. I've looked at several car pool site and they all have horrible user interfaces. Google would certainly be able to create a great interface. Also, if they put a link for it on the search engine for even just a month, a ton of people would quickly join.

I keep looking for a better car pool site. So far the best one I have seen is eRideShare.com

chris waters said...

Hi, I have a great Internet idea, but it is too big for me to develop financially. Do you have any experience of dealing with the likes of Google or eBay with new ideas? How do you protect your idea?? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks, Chris Waters (UK)

Bill Wu said...

I have worked on carpool website for 3 years. As James said in article, it is difficult to attract people to post ride on your website.

It will work for sure if Google willing to help and setup a platform for rideshare. But money wise, it is not that attractive for them.

I have an idea which will work also. Since it is difficult for one person or a small community to promote the site, we can use do it together by contributing rideshare information with GeoRSS feed and one gateway website can aggregate all those feed and publish it.
So the GeoRSS feed website like this one http://www.torideshare.woodala.com/GeoRSS.php

The gateway website like this one, publish all the rideshare on the map.