Thiruamalai is the founder of Let'sGaggle (letsgaggle.com), an exchange
for flexible carpooling whose name is inspired by the geese in the
movie "Winged Migration". The geese migrate thousands of miles each
year by flying in formation, drafting off each other, and could not
make that journey individually. Most people are open to carpooling but
do not or cannot because they need schedule flexibility. The goal of
Let'sGaggle is to provide an exchange and build a community large
enough to give people that flexibility.
Madhavan will describe how Let'sGaggle works and envision a future
where it will be as easy to gaggle a ride as it is to hail a taxi in NY
Madhavan began his talk by explaining that he was inspired to start
LetsGaggle.com by the informal carpooling that has worked for twenty
years to get people across the Bay Bridge. He pointed out that in all
that time many thousands of people have participated, some many times a
week. There have been no serious problems reported. He wanted to see if
he could take that idea to the next level.
LetsGaggle is a way of organizing rides from here to there that works
through a website that is loosely modeled on the way eBay does
auctions. That means that as users develop reputations through
reccomendations and so forth they become more known quantities for
other riders. Signing up is a matter of filling out a form at
letsgaggle.com. Requesting or offering a ride is another form. Both are
easy to figure out.
There is a protocol for getting picked up. Passengers and drivers meet
at a public place that they agree on ahead of time. Both have an idea
what they are looking for. Passengers know the license plate number of
the car and what it looks like. Drivers are confirm that they have the
right passenger with a confirmation number. Driver and passengers have
pre-negotiated a small payment to the driver to help cover the cost of
the trip. Let’s
Gaggle’s offering will be free for the next 2 years. After that
it will charge a small fee (about 35 cents) for the match.
At this point the software all works, and Madhavan is looking for ways
to get the word out, and users to build the system. To find out more
Future versions will include premium features like a guaranteed ride
home if the ride falls through, phone matching, and an infrastructure
for micro payments.