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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.