Four motivated students—essentially the poster-children for DU’s entrepreneurship club Dynamize and a soon-to-be DU success story—have invented an app for all who love adventure and for those who love to share it. Wanderlift serves as a platform for connecting people with cars to people without, both who want to “get out there,” as their slogan states.
The Wanderlift crew consists of Meredith Gee, a sophomore emergent digital practices major from Boise, Idaho; Sam Schooler, a sophomore computer science major from Minneapolis; Daniel Farrell, junior mechanical engineering major from Medford, Oregon and Lucio Franco, junior computer science major from Washington. Below, Gee and Schooler answer several questions in the midst of their app gradually gaining fame on the DU campus and around Denver.
Q: Who had the original idea for the app?
Gee: In April of 2016, Sam had the idea in one of his journals for our Creativity and Entrepreneurship LLC as originally for DU students who wanted to go skiing on the weekends but didn’t have a way to get there. We did a first prototype over the summer with some funding and then launched it during Orientation Week so that we could advertise it to the freshmen who were already excited to get involved in everything DU related.
Q: Why a ride-sharing app?
Gee: The idea came from ski-season because it’s so big in Colorado—we saw the need, so we decided to do it. There was just a large volume of students on campus without vehicles, but then also a significant number of students who had them and were able to go up to the resorts. You wouldn’t have a junior with a car just offering a ride to a random freshman. But with the app, you can say, “You’re going hiking? I’ll come hiking.” The idea from the beginning has been any trip 30-300 miles for some common activity.
Q: How many people are using the app right now, and is the app’s traffic what you expected when you first began creating it?
Schooler: We were originally planning to just focus on DU for this first season, but with expanding the location we have around 850 users currently. Five or six people go up every weekend, and we want to get that up to 10 in the near future. We just hope to be able to have multiple communities that are stable.
Q: One year from now, so March 2018, what specifically do you hope to see with the app’s progress and people’s use of it?
Gee: We will probably be in the Pacific Northwest or maybe even California, starting on the college campuses but hopefully expanding to just the cities in general. The activities people use it for will probably be different—like to concerts, for recreation, hiking, biking, etc. Just being able to have multiple communities in different areas that are all sustainable would be awesome. More than 150 rides per week consistently is probably our goal.
Q: What has been your favorite thing about being a part of this project so far?
Schooler: My favorite thing is being able to say to people, “Look, I made this.” Every time there is a transaction or someone using the app it’s exciting—it’s just cool to see that we designed an app well enough that people are actually using it.
Gee: I came into college wanting to find people who wanted to create things. I really enjoy collaborative people, and our team is just phenomenal with all the different skillsets we have. We’ve learned so much in six months—there isn’t really any other great way to learn besides testing things and actually getting out there and doing them.
The Wanderlift app is available from the App Store and on Google Play for free. To get involved with teams like the one that created Wanderlift, join Dynamize, DU’s entrepreneurship club for those who desire to tangibly start something.