Added by Arjun Salwan in Case Study
We all have been in situations where we’ve been too drunk even to walk, let alone drive. What’s even worse after drinking is the walk of shame towards the pub to get your car. And sometimes, to your horror, your car has been towed. And let’s just not start listing the criminal activities that could’ve taken place.
On the other hand, drinking and driving have not only been a huge problem but also isn’t the best of options for your’s and other’s safety. In situations like these, there’s very less that you can do. However, we have successfully developed a way not to let such ordeals jeopardize our fun.
The company StearClear, by releasing the app, brings the ‘convenience’ of drinking and not leaving your car behind. At a pre-registered price of $20 followed by a per mile $2, a team of two StearClear employees drives you and your vehicle home while the other employee follows with another car. Plus, the payment is as easy and secure as it can get. You can either pay by cash, or you can also store your credit/debit card credentials in the app itself, and the interface will calculate the amount and withdraw it subsequently. This start-up, which endorses itself by $500,000, has been up and running in some parts of New Jersey. In simpler words, StearClear offers a way to get you and your car back home safely.
Before we get into the details, I am putting the word out that this is not the first idea. And I don’t say this, co-founder Craig Sher does. According to him, “We found 50-60 companies across the country which gave their customers the same service as we do. But they are more like mom-and-pop shops since it is a tough business to make money on.”
What StearClear has successfully ended up doing is truly magnificent. Instead of starting off entirely o their own, StearClear took the help of such local franchises. With this they not only have steered clear of the start-up cost of a business, but they also ruled out hectic maneuvers of handling the human resources invested in the business. StearClear looked after everything, the app, payment, paying employees, tax reporting, etc. The local businesses involved with StearClear only had to deploy their hired personnel whenever they got a notification on the companion app.
The companion app which we are so readily talking about consists of three sister apps which constitute the whole system. One app is for the consumer (the drunk), one is for the driving team, and one is for the local franchise owners to monitor their drivers in real-time. The app works in a different way than expected. Once the user initiates the request, it is NOT sent to the drivers but forwarded to the franchises to review. And then the owners push out the notification to the nearest driving team available. This allows them to handle all management related functions necessary to run the business while also being able to monitor their workforce accurately.
Drivers are usually hired by assigning them shifts during the times they deem themselves to be free. However, drivers can also notify the franchise via the app if they’re entirely free on a particular day just if they want to earn some extra cash. The startup provides an extra earning opportunity to drivers.
The only downside I, as a customer, see with this innovative start-up is the limited locations it is located at. StearClear raised $600,000 and soft-launched as a closed beta in New Jersey. During this period, it saw a very encouraging output with 3,000 downloads, 1,500 customer registrations and an average of 6-10 rides per week.
Following this, it hard-launched. Till now it has had 450 inquiries, 50% of which are still active. The start-up aims at acquiring more local franchises in nearby states to expand their area of operations. They are excited to bring this service to a bigger audience.
Upon asking, Sher said, “We are looking into the possibilities of setting up bases in Boise, Indianapolis, and Salt Lake City. We should be operational in the next six months.”
During the beta period, the company experienced promising results. The start-up learned a lot about what consumers want and what they prefer. She further added that “People don’t generally believe in this type of service. They think nobody is going to show up. But when our team does show up, we see the customers returning to our service. Just in our beta-phase, we got around 25% customers through word-of-mouth alone.”
To further encourage users, StearClear started indulging with pubs to help their intoxicated customers hook up a ride with us.
Currently, StearClear is available through the Syracuse and Rochester markets and has had a lot of success with potential investors. Investors involving big names have vowed to help the start-up establish itself in cities like New York as well.
While the future of this looks bright, it sure has to go through a lot of ups and downs before it can finally count itself as a member of the big boy league.
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