SXSW Startups: GoKid Drives Carpools
The Forrest Four-Cast: February 26, 2018
At the 2018 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event on March 10 and 11, 50 diverse startups will attempt to impress a panel of judges with their skills, creativity and innovation. Winners in each of 10 categories will be honored at the Accelerator Award Ceremony at 7 pm Sunday, March 11, at the Hilton Austin, Salon AB. Network with all the finalists from 11 am to 1:30 pm on Monday, March 12, at SXSW Accelerator Demo Day, at the Hilton Austin, Salon C. The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event (as well as the Demo Day) takes place within the Startup & Tech Sectors track of programming.
A finalist in the Transportation Technology category, GoKid is the complete carpool solution for schools, teams and families. Its easy-to-use apps enable families to set up and manage carpools with people they know and trust. Its school solution, GoKid Connect, connects families with others in their school who live close by. GoKid is an alumnus of Techstars Mobility, backed by Fontinalis Partners and InMotion Ventures and is headquartered in New York City. See their pitch at 9:30 am Saturday, March 10, at the Hilton Austin, Salon AB.
GoKid CEO Stefanie Lemcke (pictured above) answered our questions.
What inspired your team to apply for SXSW Accelerator?
We’ve been coming to SXSW for many years and have discovered many startups during these events. To be selected into the prestigious Accelerator with our company is an honor — and this year’s focus on Mobility and Smart City solutions makes it particularly compelling. Our cities are experiencing a transportation crisis. A heavy reliance on single-occupancy car trips is a big part of the problem, contributing to traffic and congestion that erodes quality of life, accounts for billions of dollars in lost time and productivity, threatens safety and degrades air quality. On school days, of all the car trips made daily in the U.S., an estimated 36 million were made by parents transporting their children to and from school. Smart City initiatives aim to turn this situation around with the help of technology solutions that enable more efficient use and sharing of resources. Technology-enabled carpooling is one important component of the Smart City toolbox, but is often focused on adults commuting to work, overlooking the significant congestion caused by parents transporting children in single-family trips. GoKid targets this missing piece — family carpooling. When integrated into a city’s broader strategic program for traffic reduction and transportation efficiency, GoKid can help cities quell congestion at peak hours.
What does GoKid hope to accomplish in 2018?
We are rolling out our exclusive partnership with TeamSnap, the sports management platform with 15 million users, releasing our native Android app and bringing our solution, GoKid Connect, to many more schools.
What is your competitive advantage?
The first thing to know is that TRUST is foundational to our business model. We do not hire drivers (GoKid is NOT Uber for kids)! Like with traditional carpooling, parents (or trusted caregivers) do the driving and invite only other parents they know and trust to the carpool. GoKid makes it all easier, encouraging more carpooling. Second we have exclusive partnerships and integrations. For youth sports, we have an exclusive partnership with TeamSnap, the leading web-based team management platform, to bring GoKid carpooling to TeamSnap’s 15 million users. Through the GoKid app, parents will be able to import TeamSnap rosters and invite other parents from their children’s athletic teams to carpool.
What has been your previous experience at SXSW?
I have been coming to SXSW for many years and I love the random encounters in Austin — meeting an amazing investor while waiting in the line for a party. I took part in hands-on sessions — in fact part of the GoKid flow was created in a day-long user experience workshop.
What sessions are your team most excited about at SXSW 2018?
For us, a big focus is obviously in the Smart City and Mobility area, but we are also eager to attend sessions that are out of our own immediate industry — a lot of time you learn the most from other startups that are going through the same growth phase.
What are GoKid’s goals at SXSW 2018?
Trying to take it all in — in a short period of time! We are meeting with investors, while taking part in the Accelerator program. And we definitely need to hit some BBQ spots.
Tell about GoKid’s previous experience with pitch events.
As part of Techstars Mobility cohort, we were trained to pitch in many environments. It’s super important to be able to explain what the company stands for and how we are able to solve a big problem. We are a finalist of New York’s Urban Future Competition, and have been a finalist in Google Demo Day Detroit, 2017 and in NextChallenge: Smart Cities, 2016 — our very first pitch event was for the Women Who Tech Challenge in New York….and the list goes on. What we love about pitching is that we usually meet one or two really amazing people who become followers and supporters.
Has GoKid been involved with other tech conferences?
We’ve been exhibiting at at Web Summit in Lisbon, the LA Auto Show, 2017 (we were chosen a top 10 automotive startup) at CES, New York Tech Day and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We’ve also attended several school conferences. Each conference is an opportunity to meet amazing people, and as much as we are a tech company, it’s great to get out there and talk to customers and partners.
GoKid is based in New York. How would you characterize the startup ecosystem in the Big Apple?
Dynamic and rapidly growing. You have to come and see it.
If your team wasn’t involved in building GoKid, what would they be doing?
Launching a wine business out of Portugal.
What do you enjoy most about the startup experience?
Every day is a new day.
What inspires your team to work harder?
The fact that we are contributing to building a more sustainable future. What we’re doing is making a tangible difference in our communities that will not only be seen in the short term, but will have long-term positive effects. In the U.S., it’s difficult to completely eliminate driving from our schedules, but it’s a start if we can make it super easy for parents to reduce the amount of time spent in cars, and can help build communities and encourage more face-to-face interaction between neighbors. A sustainable lifestyle starts with teaching your kids.
Look for interviews with other SXSW Accelerator finalists in this space between now and March. Startups already profiled as part of this series include 70MillionJobs, AfterNow, ARwall, Bluefield, Cambridge Cancer Genomics, Commutifi, DashTag, FanFood, FutureFuel.io, Goalsetter, HealthTensor, Instreamatic, Leaf, Moms Can: Code, Pawame, PolyPort, Sceenic, Switchboard, UPGRADED, USHR and Vochlea.
Or, click here to browse the full lineup of startups for SXSW Accelerator 2018.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.