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Enactus is working on a ride-sharing app for Hillsdale stu­dents. Courtesy | Pexels.com

After running into some road­blocks in app devel­opment, Enactus members said they plan to launch their ride-sharing service app, now named ChargerX, in mid-April.

Senior Tucker Phillips, co-pres­ident of the entre­pre­neurship club, said finding an app developer fluent in English and charging rea­sonable prices delayed the group’s plans. American app devel­opers were too expensive, and overseas devel­opers didn’t always speak English flu­ently enough, Phillips said. Even­tually, the group found an overseas developer meeting all the require­ments and able to code the app within 40 days.

Despite the obstacles with app devel­opment, the club has developed a price model and is moving forward with the app’s design.

The cost to travel within Hillsdale will be $3.50 for the first rider and that price per person will decrease with every addi­tional pas­senger. With four pas­sengers, each person would pay less than $2, Phillips said.

He, however, dis­couraged having only one rider, espe­cially for longer trips like to the Detroit Met­ro­politan Wayne County Airport in Romulus, Michigan. Under Enactus’ price model, a rider in a full car would pay around $17 to go to the airport — which is cheaper than the college shuttle, which charges $60.

Phillips said the goal is that the Hillsdale Ride Board will be unnec­essary once Enactus launches the app.

Drivers will be able to reg­ister within minutes using the app by pro­viding their name, social security number, and photos of their proof of insurance. Drivers can connect the app to Venmo and CashApp accounts or set up direct deposit, and riders can schedule future rides and send mes­sages.

Enactus has also had to address faculty con­cerns regarding insurance. Starting March 21, people who drive for ride-sharing ser­vices like Uber and Lyft in Michigan have to pay a monthly premium on their car, after the state passed com­pre­hensive leg­is­lation on insurance reg­u­la­tions for lim­ou­sines, taxis, and ride-sharing ser­vices in December.

Phillips said insurance will be the drivers’ respon­si­bility, rec­om­mending the optional per­sonal injury pro­tection, which pro­tects the driver, in addition to the required per­sonal property pro­tection, which pro­tects the rider.

The group has also com­mis­sioned junior Zane Miller to design the app icon. He is using blue and orange, the app’s theme colors, and the “X” in  the app’s name, which is short for “Express.”

Miller, who has expe­rience in graphic design, said he was excited to expand his pro­fes­sional port­folio while on campus.

Phillips said Enactus has an aes­thetic shell — just the interface — designed for pre­sen­tation for the upcoming March 27 com­pe­tition against other Enactus clubs.

Phillips and his club­mates are han­dling the app and the legal ques­tions of the project with the help of faculty and advisers, he said.

“It might sound like we’re stagnant,” Phillips said, “but we’re clipping along.”

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    $17 to Metro airport? Me thinks you might want to rethink that price.

    • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

      In a full car/per person. Guessing the real number is $68, split 4 ways.

      Sure hope you paid to get pen tested before going live. If you don’t know what that means, please don’t go live.

      • Ellsworth_Toohey

        Ahh… “a rider in a full car”. I must have had a com­pre­hension moment…

        • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

          It’s still a bad deal for the driver. 93 miles each way, 180 miles for call it $70, that’s 38 cents a mile, just over half the federal reim­bursement rate.

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    there isn’t anyone on the campus who can code an app? I’m not saying that I can, but it’s 2017. There should at least be a few tech­no­log­i­cally lit­erate folks who could make this happen rather than going overseas. Maybe all of the Trump worship at hillsdale is for real. BRING THEM BACK (the jobs).

    • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

      Coding the app is 1/10 the total problem, and unfor­tu­nately now that the CS classes are gone, it’s quite pos­sible nobody does on campus.

      However, the club is in for a very rude awak­ening if they fail to deal with the remaining 9/10 of what it takes to make such an app actually func­tional.

      1. The database — A con­stantly updating listing of who is actively driving, this can update by the minute if not the second. Are they reg­is­tered, have filed the nec­essary proof of who they are, insurance, etc. All of this has to be stored some­where.

      2. The geo-database — Who wants rides to where, who is driving and wants to make that trip, matching up the two sides in real time is non-trivial. Drivers will com­plain if they are in Pittsford and offered a trip from Litch­field to Jonesville, the trips have to be geo­graph­i­cally rel­evant to the drivers, you can’t just flood them with every­thing from the county, so mapping where the requests are, and the present location of the driver is a must. That’s a lot of com­mu­ni­cation between the app and the back end systems.

      3. Billing — Drivers want to get paid, than means tracking how many trips worth how much were run. Pas­sengers want to pay without having to have cash. Enter the micro­payment processors, and all the inter­faces to them.

      4. Reg­is­tering payment methods, and ways to get money out for drivers. You need the way to get the card or bank info to the payment processors somehow.

      5. Security — You have bank info, car and address info, you are now a target. You want adver­tising, being the next big data breach isn’t the way to get that adver­tising.

      6. Reg­u­latory — As soon as you make a dime, every politician under the sun will be looking to raid the cookie jar. How good are the cor­po­ration docs? You did make an LLC for this right? Then there’s the IRS, and it goes downhill from there.

      7. That out­sourced app, you did get the source code for it right, and com­piled it yourself? Were I in a foreign country, and wanted to get a few extra dollars, siphoning off the user data and deliv­ering it to a private server would make for a nice side business. Don’t believe me? You can buy a hacked app for $50 – 100, put it in the mar­ket­place, and probably make your money back before it gets taken down.

      Answering why nobody local would do it, purely budget, they had $400 to build the app. That doesn’t buy enough of my time to even bother sketching up a few screens. You have to go some­where that $400 buys 3 – 4 pro­grammers for a couple weeks, yes that is the going rate in many loca­tions. I’m guessing the require­ments weren’t well thought through, and they will get a generic couple pages of forms, but not a com­plete app + backend to run the app. Then you have to host that backend, AWS, but then you need to know what you are doing there, and that’s more com­pli­cated to get right than the app itself.

    • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

      Well, that’s dis­ap­pointing, prior comment flagged as spam.

      Simply detailed why what they wanted to get the app built for was a small fraction of the overall cost to get into oper­ation, noted that the back end servers are where the com­pli­ca­tions are.

      The CS program shut down at the college, so finding someone to program it is likely harder than the past, and what they wanted to get the app built for was really not suf­fi­cient to get it done in the US.

      • Jen­nifer Melfi

        can you post it again? I would be inter­ested in seeing the details.

        • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

          Give it a try in a couple posts, then maybe some will get through.

          Based on earlier reporting, the app was being built for 400 which for a US based developer is perhaps a day or two. It’s just not going to be built for that.

          On top of that, they need to get the app source code, to ensure that the off shore coder isn’t including code to siphon off data, to make building the app for so little worth it. Even with the code, someone who knows what to look for has to go through it. As a service, com­panies will invest thou­sands in this single oper­ation, to not do so puts all the users at risk.

        • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

          The backend com­pli­ca­tions: a geo-server to find drivers and riders in prox­imity to bother seeing if they want the trip. For instance, offering a Litch­field rider to a driver in Pittsford makes zero sense. The app also need to be able to tell the rider that there isn’t a driver any­where close, oth­erwise, how does one know that even though there are 10 drivers logged in, none are nearby.

          Paying the drivers and col­lecting from riders. The prime target of hacking based on the data value if you break this database. You have to track who drove, and file with the IRS as you pay folks. Reg­u­latory com­pli­ca­tions, and simple cor­porate finance makes this a problem that may need nearly a full time job for at least part of the year. Plus, as soon as there is a revenue stream, you will have a politician fishing around for how to get their extra cut.

        • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

          Finally, security. You have bank info, card info, SSN for drivers to report income, you have a goldmine. Adver­tising is key to getting noticed, that you make head­lines for a data breach, not so good for business. They can add 2 zeros to the app devel­opment price for what it costs to really have a good security review, and that’s a one time thing, security never stops being an issue to keep on top of.

          So while the app makes a good project for a com­pe­tition, for real world use, it’s not a good idea.