If you ever take a train, bus, or subway to work or a night out, you know how cryptic those schedules can be to read. What, it’s not intuitive that route 8H will get you to Union Station in 36 minutes?
Roger Cauvin feels your pain. The entrepreneur founded Dadnab, an online service that utilizes text messaging (SMS) to solve this problem. I had the opportunity to chat with Roger the other day, and he gave some interesting insight into what they’re up to over at Dadnab.
MM: So tell us about Dadnab? What is it exactly?
RC: Dadnab enables riders of public transportation to plan their trips using text messaging from their mobile phones. To find out how to get somewhere using public transportation, a user sends a text message with the origin and destination. Dadnab replies with an itinerary with routes, stops, departure, transfer, and arrival times. Users can also specify desired departure or arrival times in their queries.
MM: How did you get the idea for this service?
RC: I live in Austin, Texas and frequently ride public transportation myself. I used to spend several hours per week studying bus schedules. Web-based trip planners made my life much easier, but they aren’t as convenient and accessible when I’m on the street spontaneously trying to figure out how to get where I want to go. It struck me that using text messaging would solve the accessibility problem and make it so I’d have the equivalent of a “Post-It note” with directions stored on my mobile phone.
MM: How can someone start using it today?
RC: No sign-up is necessary. Just send a text message to the e-mail address for your region. For example, in Austin, I can send a text message to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘airport to 5th & congress’ as the body of the message. The regions, e-mail addresses, and instructions are on the web site (www.dadnab.com).
MM: Is it free? If the service is free, how do/will you make money?
RC: Yes, the service is free aside from what you would normally pay to your carrier for text messaging. Ultimately, Dadnab may derive revenue from advertisements appended to the itineraries it sends.
MM: How many users do you have right now (if you can share that)?
RC: I am working on a usage metrics tool. For now, let’s just say that Austin has the most users, as initial marketing efforts have been concentrated here. The plan all along has been to replicate the Austin marketing efforts in other regions.
MM: Some people are most comfortable getting this type of information directly from the source. What would you say to those folks that might be hesitant to trust a third party?
MM: I see that Dadnab covers 8 different cities right now. How do you determine what cities to add next? (hint: please add Washington, DC soon!)
RC: Yes, Dadnab currently covers Austin, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, and the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state region. At this point, the main two factors that go into determining what regions to add are transit ridership and the availability of schedule information. Washington, DC fits the bill well, but for now I am marketing the regions Dadnab already covers.
MM: Are there any plans to offer other services in the future?
RC: While I don’t rule out developing separate information services based on text messaging, Dadnab is focused on public transportation.
MM: I can’t end this interview without asking – how did you got the name Dadnab?
RC: I chose “Dadnab” because it has no preconceived meaning. When people ask me what it means, I tell them, “Whatever you want it to mean.”
Thanks Roger. We love to hear about intuitive, useful mobile services like Dadnab. So what do you think? Would you use this service? Leave a comment to let us know (and give Roger some feedback).
(photo credit: http://sf.metblogs.com)