Posted by:  Cindy Tolan

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have cemented their position as the future of transportation, and other on-demand services have shown us that there is a real demand for, well, ordering things on-demand.  But here’s the problem: On-demand apps require a smartphone to use, and there are still more than 75 million Americans who don’t have a smartphone — essentially making them ineligible to use these life-changing services.  While these people range in economic status and location, there does seem to be one common factor — older Americans are more likely to not have a smartphone (or even a cell phone).

Enter GoGoGrandparent! The company is developing a way for those without smartphones to still use on-demand services like Uber.  Justin Booogaard, one of the founders, was living with his grandmother. She saw him using Uber so much and asked how she could use it. Once Justin let her know you needed a smartphone to hail a ride, she told him to create a company that would let her use it! Justin and his co-founder David Lung, wanted to impartially test it the idea. They created a postcard from a faux company and mailed it to Justin’s grandmother, advertising a company that lets you order an Uber by calling a phone number from a landline or a non-smart phone. She tried it and loved it, and GoGoGrandparent was born!

Postcards are still an integral part of the business — the company says they are a great way to communicate with an older generation, and are helping GoGoGrandparent grow twenty percent (20%) week-over-week.  The company can also send texts to loved ones with the status of riders.

First, you call the GoGoGrandparent line and speak to an operator to give them your payment information and address.  Then you call back and use their automated system, pressing 1 for a pickup at your home. The company hails an Uber, and you tell the driver where you want to go. If you ever need a pickup at a different location (it will remember where you were dropped off last, so you can request a pickup there), just call the company’s hotline and request to talk to an operator.  GoGoGrandparent charges a thirteen percent (13%) commission on each ride, as well as a $1.80 fee to cover their costs. This total fee comes out to about $2.50 per ride on average.

The founders explained that eventually they hope to partner with nonprofits and city governments to offer the service to under-resourced populations, who may not be elderly but can’t afford a smartphone. The company also sees itself as potentially replacing costly and inefficient paratransit programs, which are basically in every major city.  GoGoGrandparent wants to eventually offer other services and access to a variety of other on-demand apps, such as home maintenance or even caregiving services.

Users can sign up for GoGoGrandparent online, or by calling (855) 464-6872. The company will also let you send a postcard to a loved one explaining the service.

Courtesy of Tech Crunch

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