Mapflow Launches Avego for Carsharing 2.0
Written by Katie Fehrenbacher
Posted September 8th, 2008 at 4:00 am in http://earth2tech.com/2008/09/08/mapflow-launches-sharelift-for-carsharing-20/
What would a commuter carpooling service that actually tapped into the real-time transparency and flexibility of the Internet look like? Well, a lot like high-tech hitch-hiking, and possibly a lot more popular and effective at getting single occupancy vehicles out of morning traffic. At least that’s the idea behind Avego (update: formerly called Sharelift according to the Demo info), a service officially being launched at the DEMO convention in San Diego on Monday.
The service, developed by Cork, Ireland-based company Mapflow, uses a gadget placed in commuter vehicles to pull satellite navigation info and car info via a wireless connection to develop a next-generation public transportation system. Mapflow calls it “shared transport,” but to us it looks a lot like carpooling brought into the always-on Internet age. The service will largely target commuters, but also could be used for taxi and other public transportation systems.
While the obvious benefit of the service (to eco-minded folks like us) may be getting any number of commuters to ditch their cars and cut carbon emissions, Sharelift could help battle the pinch of $4 gas, too. Mapflow estimates that out of an estimated $2 billion per day market of single occupancy vehicle trips, “20 percent are excellent candidates for Shared Transport.”
Mapflow has already developed a business selling consulting and technology solutions for customers interested in location-based services for vehicles in the UK. That includes partnering with municipal and federal groups on several pay-by-the mile toll and insurance programs. The company is backed by a Series A of $5.6 million and a total commitment of $11.7 million from SOSventures.
We have a lot of questions for Mapflow. We’ll be checking out the company’s presentation on Tuesday in San Diego, and will update the story. Particularly we’d like to know more about the business model — who pays for what? And given it’s particularly difficult and expensive to sell hardware as a startup, we’re wondering if that is the best way to start off — why not create a mobile application that taps the GPS and wireless networks of phones to do something similar? (Like California Cleantech Open Finalist Goose Networks, for example.)
Mapflow is no doubt figuring out its plan of attack, but out of a sea of DEMO startups building various technologies to help make life easier, more productive or more fun, we’re glad to see at least one pondering our planet.