GrocerGO

Cassie Coulter, Sarah Sugar, Al Vanderklipp, and Quan

GrocerGO: Driving College Students to the Market

Requested Amount: $100,000

Expected Amount of Time for Project Completion: 12 weeks

Project Description

We propose an App called GrocerGO, which will connect students at the University of Michigan to go to the grocery store together.  The App will look similar to Uber or other ridesharing apps, as when students open the App they will be able to see a map and where their potential rides are.  All users will have an account that may include a picture and a short personal description.  A student who joins as a driver will turn on their App when they are going to the grocery store.  It will be up to the driver’s discretion to accept other riders, which would likely be based on location, as it will be the driver’s responsibility to pick up the riders at their current location, or at a nearby landmark.  For example, if students are all on the North side of campus, then the App may suggest meeting outside of North Quad for the driver to pick up the other passengers.  Drivers will be able to indicate what grocery they will be going to and how long they plan to spend shopping, so users of the App can pick the best driver to suit their preferences.  At the grocery store, the App will allow users to indicate when they are checking out.  Others will be able to choose an automated reply, such as “Also checking out,” or “I need 5 more minutes.”

There will be a flat fee for using GrocerGO for riders, and a payment for drivers.  The App will be free to download, but each user will be required to input a credit or debit card when setting up their account.  For each grocery store trip, riders will pay a $5 free and riders will receive a $4.50 payment per rider.  $0.50 per rider will go to the management and development of GrocerGO.

GrocerGO will only be open to University of Michigan students, and students will be required to input his or her UM identification number when registering for the App.  We are doing this for safety reasons, as students we have spoken to indicate they would feel more comfortable sharing rides with fellow students.  Users of the App will also have the option to leave a review of other people they share a ride with.   When the ride ends, users of GrocerGO will be able to give each of the other individuals in the car a rating of 0 to 5 stars, and will also have the option to write a comment.

 

What unmet need does your product meet?

The University of Michigan has no grocery stores on campus.  Most students frequent the same grocery stores, such as Kroger, Lucky’s Market, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods.  However, there is no organized system to easily shuttle students to and from these stores.  For students without a car, getting to the grocery store can prove to be a challenge.  Public transportation can be inconvenient and other ridesharing apps, such as Uber or Lyft, can be expensive.  We believe that GrocerGO will make it easier for these students to go grocery shopping, and allow students with access to a vehicle an option to make some money to help pay for gas and maintaining their car.  This, we hope, will allow students to cook more, and purchase fewer meals out, which is generally healthier and less expensive.

 

Interviewing Users

After speaking with several university students, we discovered that efficiently buying groceries is a serious problem on campus. Both Zoey Holmstrom, a junior from Saint Joseph, MI, and Haley Cropper, a senior from California, said that not having a vehicle of their own means they have to rely on the goodwill of other students to either take them shopping or lend a car. Micaela Jankowski, a junior from Traverse City, MI said she’s had to wait for hours for friends to get home and lend her the keys. Holmstrom also understands the necessity for getting her groceries during her free time, because her job as a photographer for the Michigan Daily often takes her out of town and even out of the state for days. All three of these ladies stressed the value of being able to go to the store on a regular basis to buy fresh produce in an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and therefore require greater flexibility in how they get there. It’s clear their current methods aren’t working, as Jankowski said it’s too difficult to carry all of her bags on the bus, and Cropper said that a service like Zipcar has become too pricey.

 

Potential Market

This app will serve university students, beginning with those at the University of Michigan. For the 2016-2017 academic year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions says that 28,983 undergraduates are enrolled at this university, and Michigan Housing says that approximately 10,000 of those students are living on campus in residence halls or apartments. While these students may have access to meal plans, the other 20,000 living off campus must fend for themselves when it comes to buying groceries. There are also 15,735 graduate students that could use this app, as reported by the Registrar’s Office.

 

How is it innovative?

GrocerGO is innovative because it allows students to use well-known landmarks around and near campus as meeting points, eliminating the need for uncomfortable searches for apartment buildings. In only offering this service to verified students, we’ll eliminate some of the uncertainty and discomfort that accompanies more traditional ride-sharing apps, like Uber, Lyft, or Zipcar.

 

GrocerGO solves several problems at once; in addition to providing a service for car-less and international students to have quick access to healthy food, it encourages carpooling, reducing carbon emissions, and also allows students with cars to earn some additional income to supplement their food budgets.

 

A “who’s online” feature will allow students in need of rides to receive notifications whenever a driver comes online. This minimizes the wait time and inconvenience that these students usually face.

How will it be sustainable?

After the initial funding, GrocerGO’s income will come from a service fee from every charge- for every car-less student that pays a flat rate (between $5.00 and $7.00 depending on the time of day) to take a trip; GrocerGO will receive 15% of the charge. Additional revenue will come from in-app advertisements.

 

Though we intend to only offer our service on the University of Michigan’s central campus, we hope to expand to North Campus by Winter 2018, and to encompass other in-state colleges by 2019.

 

Why us?

Our combined experiences in restaurants, food deserts, and medical practices enable us to understand the value behind the relationship between fresh food and good health. Our experiences as students at the University of Michigan who struggle to find time and transportation to grocery stores also means that we are in a unique position to tackle the conversation about how to connect our fellow students with food resources on college campuses.

 

 

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5 Responses to “GrocerGO”

  1. Hi GrocerGo Team! I love your idea to create an App that brings students together in a carpooling service to the grocery store. As a student who lives off campus, I struggle to get groceries on a regular basis. I definitely agree that there is a huge need for a service like yours, and I just have a few minor suggestions.

    With the flat rate that you mentioned, I think this could be a problem for drivers. For instance, the cost of gas/time it takes to get to Trader Joe’s may be much different than to Meijer or Kroger, especially depending on the time of day and amount of traffic. I was also thinking that could there be another way to incentivize drivers rather than by making this a fee for service system. Students may be on tight budgets and splitting an Uber to the grocery store could cost less than $4.50/person if 2-3 friends split the cost. For example, maybe GrocerGo could partner with or create a similar system to Pocket Points (http://college.usatoday.com/2015/09/23/pocket-points-app/) and for every mile the driver drives, they could receive a discount from local businesses.

    Another suggestion I have is creating landmarks off campus as well (as it is more likely students on south camps aren’t on meal plans), such as in front of the IM building or Yost. And lastly, I have one comment about the section on ‘unmet needs.’ There are a few grocery stores on campus like Babo and Revive. Yet, these stores are known for having steep prices and limited options. Overall, great job, on your knight challenge. I especially like that this app would bring students together from different locations in the AA community. I look forward to seeing your pitch at Pitchfest!

  2. Hi Knight Team,

    I really identify with your app because I’m struggling to park my car on campus just so I can use it to go grocery shopping. However, an issue that you may face is that you are relying on the assumption that there are always going to be people on the road about to go grocery shopping. However, like you mentioned, you app is different Uber and Lyft in the sense that once these drivers go grocery shopping, they will no longer be on the map. If so, how do you plan accommodate when there are no drivers, especially perhaps in the beginning stages of implementing the app? One way of doing this is allowing drivers to set up a time that they plan to go – like every Sunday morning.

    Additionally, it makes sense to to have all users meet in a designated destination. but what about after they have purchased all their groceries? I know that it usually takes me 2-3 trips from my car to the my apartment, especially if I’m trying to stock up for the week. Would the users be dropped off the same spot or would they be dropped home on the second time? How would this factor towards motivating drivers on your application?

    Lastly, there is an organization on campus called Wolverine Grocery that offers delivery service of $2.99 for orders over $30 and no charge for orders off of $100. Although your idea pretty different, both are solutions for tackling the same issue so you may want to think about how to distinguish yourself on campus. Overall, I thought you guys came up with a great proposal to solving an issue that the majority of our student faces. Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  3. Hi GrocerGo team! I think you all have found the perfect solution to an ongoing problem that exists at the University of Michigan. Many students, like me, do not own a cap on campus. A lack of close grocery stories forces us to either eat out quite a bit, which can be extremely unhealthy or to depend on other ridesharing platforms which can be costly as well.

    I think the app works well in theory, but the actual practice might be difficult to implement. Ride sharing platforms depend on trust in the system, and in order to reach that you need to have obtained a critical number of users who can back your application. I do like how it is just Univerity of Michigan Students, however, this might limit how many people will actually be using your service. As costs grow for your company, a stagnant stream of revenue can become quite problematic in the future. Once you have established a certain level of trust with your users, you might want to explore the possibility of expanding the amount of individuals who can actually use your program.

    I believe your greatest competitors are the few grocery stores that already exist on campus. Companies similar to Babo and Replenish are able to keep their prices high because students do not have any other option for grocery stores on campus. As you start to take away market share from them, you might force them to drop prices in order to incentivize new customers. This could lead to a price war between these firms and your own, shrinking profits for both organizations to the delight of your customers.

    Madeline brought up a really great point about switching away from the flat rate. Why not determine costs of the trip similar to Uber? By charging customers by the mile, you will be incentivizing more drivers to use your product every time they leave for the grocery store.

    Finally, you might want to think of partnering with grocery stores off campus. These stores have the greatest incentive to attract more students from the university. I believe they would be a potential investor in your company if you find you need more cash flow to expand in the future.

    Great product! I cannot wait to see if this idea comes to fruition.

  4. Hey GrocerGo,

    I like the idea a lot. By giving an avenue to carpool and buy groceries you guys definitely work to help the environment and students’ finances. I think some similar apps/companies exist, although they are delivery services instead of ridesharing. Particular ones that you will be competing against in Ann Arbor are Instacart Grocery Services and Delivice. However, if done through the University of Michigan it may be more attractive and reliable to students.

    Some considerations that need to be made in terms of having a ride share program that involves transporting good are: the certain types of cars drivers have (some cars are smaller and can’t fit many groceries), number of people (a full car of people may result in difficulties to store groceries), conflicts among passengers/drivers (a person taking longer than the driver has to wait or accidental switch-up of groceries). I think if you guys consider address these problems in the beginning it will save you the headache once the app is up and running. Also a flat rate doesn’t take into consideration the distance an individual most drive or varying fuel cost per vehicle. I think a better way to compute the fee is through a function that considers distance, mileage, and individuals in the vehicle. Many existing regulation may also be some hurdles you might need to consider as you expand.

    Trying to generate add revenue is also a very good idea, I bet you could get some grocery stores to buy into the app idea because ultimately it gets them more customers through the door. Overall I think the proposal is great aside from a few changes that can be implemented.

  5. Hi, GoGrocer Team. Very interesting idea! I like the way you are applying the increasingly familiar ride-sharing culture in a different context. Our classmates have given you many excellent suggestions and questions to consider. In particular, I wonder if you could talk with any grocery stores about this idea. How would they respond? Is your idea expandable to other college towns? Again, great work here!

    Kindly,

    Emilia

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