This is a transcript of Episode 35: Michael Tee on Launching The App Rideshare Timer. You can find show notes, comments and more by clicking here. You can also listen to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
Speaker: Welcome to the Rideshare Guy Podcast, the site that’s dedicated to helping drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder. So whether you drive for Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered. Now here’s your host, Harry Campbell.
Harry: Hey, what’s going on everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Rideshare Guy Podcast. I’m happy to be here and I’m really psyched to have you guys all listening today. I’ve got a pretty cool interview today.
I’m actually interviewing a driver named Michael Tee, who created an app called Rideshare Timer. Now, this is an app that I actually heard about a few times here and there, and eventually more and more drivers kept telling me about it and I told myself, all right, I’ve got to get this guy on the podcast or at least reach out to him and see what’s going on. I had a couple emails back and forth with Michael, loved his story, invited him onto the podcast, and he obliged.
So today, we’re going to be talking to Michael and talking all about his app that he built. It’s a pretty simple app. It’s a timer for rideshare drivers, but it’s really cool. We’ll break down the entire process behind what was the need for this app, why did he even want to get it created in the first place. We’ll also talk about how he actually got the app built, because I know that for a lot of you guys out there, you probably have your own ideas as far as it comes to rideshare things or maybe even other business ideas outside of rideshare, and I know for me, that’s always one of the things I’ve thought about doing, building an app.
I do have a Rideshare Guy app that I can link to in the show notes. It’s on Android and the iOS store also, but it’s more of a content aggregation app. This is an app with some actual functionality that Michael has built. So it’s definitely cool to see the process that he made about how he got it made, and then also kind of the results so far, what it’s been like, what’s he doing to market the app right now, because as many of you may know, marketing is probably about 90% of the work once you build your product or get your content out there. So it’s definitely cool to hear from him, see what he’s doing, see what kind of traction he’s getting.
And he’s a guy with a full-time job. He started driving for Uber on the side, so he’s got a very similar story to me, a very similar story to a lot of you, but he also saw this opportunity, this need, one that he had to fill for himself, and he kind of hoped that there would be a bunch of other people out there that also wanted it. So I won’t get too much into it because we’re going to talk all about it on the podcast, and I want to get straight to the interview because I really enjoy it. I think it’s a great interview. Michael Tee, he really shared everything that’s going on with his business and he was very honest and open with me, so I really appreciate that.
If you guys have any questions, definitely check the show notes. This episode and the show notes can be found at therideshareguy.com/episode35, and make sure you stay tuned to the end, too, because I asked Michael a couple tough questions. He’ll reveal exactly how much it cost to get this app built, which might surprise you in a good way, and then he also tells us how many copies of the app he’s sold. So definitely stay tuned to the end for that and you’ll learn a little bit more about Michael and his app. So without further ado, let’s get started. Hey, Michael, how are you doing today?
Interview with Michael Tee
Michael: I’m doing pretty well. How are you?
Harry: I’m doing well, just hanging out here in Long Beach, California, and ready to talk some rideshare. How about yourself?
Michael: I’m doing the same. I’m here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I really appreciate you having me on the show. It’s an honor to be here. I’ve been listening to you since I started doing this. So I really appreciate it.
Harry: That’s awesome. It’s always cool to have a listener on the show. So why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, how you got started with rideshare, and what you’re up to right now?
Michael: Sure. Well, basically I started rideshare back in May of 2014. I went to Denver and visited some friends for my wife’s birthday, and we took this new car service. It was Uber Black at the time.
Harry: Wow, balling.
Michael: Yeah, we were balling. It was a good time just celebrating for the weekend. I was really intrigued by it. I thought it was a neat deal, and of course I talked to the driver and he said, “Yeah, I make about $1,700 a week,” and my jaw just dropped. I was like, there’s no way. Back then that was actually an attainable goal if you worked a lot, but not anymore, I don’t think. You’d have to work tons of hours.
Harry: Yeah, definitely, and you had a full-time job. So you started driving in May, 2014 and you had a full-time job at the time, too, and maybe even now, too?
Michael: Yes, I did. I’ve always had a full-time job. I got pretty involved with forums and things about rideshare. So just learning all of the things that Uber does and some of their tactics, I never thought it was a good decision to do this full-time. Again, that’s for me. For some people it works great, but for me I just like having that steady income, and I have a good job and I enjoy what I do.
Harry: Definitely. I think that’s kind of one of the things that I try to hammer home. The best parts about working for Uber often are the flexibility and being able to scale up and scale down, and the more you do it the less you get of the best parts. So I think there’s definitely something to be said about doing as much as you can, doing the most that you can to try to make it part-time. So looking back, you started in 2014, and so obviously in rideshare years that makes you pretty old, right?
Michael: Yeah, I’m a veteran, I guess you could say.
Harry: Awesome, cool. So what kind of stuff have you done over time to really…are you still driving today?
Michael: You know, I do. It’s a lot less frequent than it used to be. I remember getting off work from my regular job, and at 5:05 I would go online. I had my waters iced down and all the good stuff that we used to do. So yeah, I used to go online and I’d make $300-600 just working about 20 hours a week. It was great.
Harry: Very nice, interesting. So yeah, and obviously prices have come down during that time and drivers are making less, but I’m curious to know, the reason why you’re on this podcast today is because we’re going to talk about this app you’ve built. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about your app and kind of when in your timeline of driving that started becoming an idea and when you started thinking about it.
Michael: Sure. The training for Uber is pretty much nonexistent, if you really want to get down to it, other than the videos that you have to watch. So I really relied on forums and you and other people that I had met here in the driving experience.
After about six or eight months I learned that there was a cancel fee if you wait for five minutes. So I started looking at my clock and making sure I was waiting five minutes, but I was waiting longer than the five minutes because I didn’t know if I was at four minutes and 58 seconds or five minutes and 58 seconds. So I started looking around the app store for timers and I specifically wanted a floating timer, something that was always visible, and there were a lot of things on there, but none of them really worked the way that I wanted them to and did exactly what I wanted. So from there it just kind of turned into a little project for me, and I was like, if I want this maybe there are a bunch of other drivers that want this. It’s got to be useful.
Harry: That’s a good point because I hear from a lot of the best entrepreneurs and CEO’s. They often say, “There was this need that I had, something that I had to fulfill, and I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I went out and built it and hoped that other people would need it.” It sounds like you kind of were thinking along the same lines.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. If you look at the interface you can tell I didn’t spend a ton of money on this. I’m not a professional Android developer by any stretch of the words, but I just said, “You know what, I want it. I’m going to go out, spend a little money, pay somebody to develop it,” and I found a company out of Chicago that works for, actually I’ll say a very cheap rate compared to what United States developers charge, but they farm out the development to India and so on. So I had a lot of late nights going to bed at 4:00 in the morning because I would start getting emails at 10:30 or 11:00 at night from the actual guy who was doing the coding in India. So it worked out over time.
Harry: Yeah, I have a couple overseas workers myself too, so I know all about that.
Michael: Yeah. If support for the app increases a little bit more and I can justify the expense, I really want to work on the cosmetic aspects of the app and just make it work, but to be honest with you, the app itself is really just a bunch of settings for the widgets. So you’re never in the app. You’re always looking at the widget while you’re driving.
Harry: Yeah. The cool thing that I like about your app, and to be frank I heard about it here and there and I said, “Man, that seems like a pretty simple idea,” but I think that since it is so simple it almost provides that value and it really does serve a purpose. You’ve kind of explained it a little bit so far with the floating timer, but for someone who’s never heard of your app, how would you pitch your app to them? How would you convince them to download it in 60 seconds or less?
Rideshare Timer App
Michael: Sure. It’s basically an always-visible timer with the option to automatically send a text to your passengers, letting them know that you have arrived. You can double tap the left side, the minutes side, of the timer and it will send message one and start the timer at the same time. It’s a countdown timer, not a count up or anything. Or you can double tap the right side, the seconds side, of the widget, and it will send message number two. So one for Lyft, one for Uber.
Harry: Cool, awesome. So it’s definitely simple and it sounds like it was borne out of your need to just stay on top of cancellations and cancellation fees, right? Because we all know how long Uber passengers keep their drivers waiting.
Michael: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting that you bring that up, because before I got the timer, I started sending a text to all my passengers whenever I would arrive, and I noticed that they were getting to my car usually within two to three minutes, on average, and I’m sure that will vary by market. It sounds like in the California market, there are some pretty finicky passengers out there and cheaper rates and stuff, but I just noticed that people were getting to my car faster, and it eliminated the frustration for me because every time I arrived at somebody’s house or at a bar, I would have to switch to my timer, start the timer, then switch to my text messaging app, copy and paste it, and then press Send. So that’s how this was born was what if I can do this in just a double tap?
Harry: Yeah, and the thing that I also really like about this idea is that the simplicity of the app is cool, but I think it’s also the mindset you have to have. For me I know in a lot of my early analysis, you may have seen some of the spreadsheets that I’ve created in the past…I’m a former engineer, so I’m looking at it from a very analytical point of view. When I’m out driving I’m only getting paid for the time where I have someone’s butt in my car. As you know and most drivers know, you don’t get paid for driving and you especially don’t get paid for waiting. So it’s thinking about if other drivers are out there waiting X minutes, how can I reduce those minutes? And that’s why I really like the core idea of your app, because it’s helping other drivers and you think about it in a way where, if I can reduce this amount of time, even if it’s only one or two minutes per ride, that, over time, over a full day’s shift and over weeks and over months, can be a pretty big difference, I think.
Michael: Absolutely. All that time adds up. I didn’t want to wait four minutes and 58 seconds and then I don’t get my cancel fee.
Harry: Yeah, that’s the other thing, too. It is nice because it does kind of help you keep track of those cancel fees.
Michael: Yeah, I mean I make the judgement call from trip to trip. If somebody engages with me pretty quickly back from the SMS or text message that I send, I’ll just make a judgement call. If it’s not a very busy night I’ll just wait maybe six minutes or so, but it just makes it so much easier. I’m not saying everybody has to send a text message, and that’s why we built in the functionality to turn it on or off, but it’s more familiar to them.
These passengers, if you get a text message your phone vibrates, you know it, you pick it up, it’s your sound, one of your friends or family is trying to get hold of you, “What are we doing? Where are we going?” So it just really helps with getting them to the car much faster. So like you said, if you take that account of waiting five minutes or six minutes, now I’m only waiting two minutes. It’s interesting, I forget to stop the timer a lot of times, and it’s interesting that when I’m close to the destination I hear my beeper go off and it’s just kind of interesting, and I’m already at the point of dropping them off and it’s only been three or four minutes. So it’s interesting to see that take place.
Harry: Yeah, definitely. For me, I’m always looking for ways to drive more efficiently, and one thing I’ve found is that with a lot of Uber passengers, they kind of think of you as their private driver, and it’s kind of like, when you do send a text, a lot of drivers have asked me why would I waste my time texting or why would I do this, and I think it’s important doing stuff like that.
I’m not saying you have to text or have to use this app, but thinking about it in that way because you’re establishing a relationship with someone, right? And it’s going to be a lot harder for them, maybe not a lot, but it’s going to be more difficult for them to keep you waiting for them to basically think of you as someone who’s just going to give them a ride from point A to point B if you send them a text. I don’t know exactly what your text says, maybe you can let us know, but when I would do it I would say something like, “Hey, this is Harry, your driver,” and try to personalize it a little and say, “Hey, I’ll be out front in a couple minutes,” or, “I’m out here waiting for you,” something that’s very respectful, but still casual. Basically my goal is to get them out there as soon as possible so I can get started and make some money.
Michael: Yeah. It’s pretty interesting the different types of messages I’ve seen people provide feedback on. I had one guy that emailed me and said, “My message says, ‘Hi, this is so-and-so. I’m at the pickup location. Your five minutes starts now.’” I thought it was kind of funny.
Harry: I like that.
Michael: I basically send a message that says, “Hi, I’m at the pickup location. Just a gentle reminder, no open containers and no more than six passengers.” I drive XL. So a lot of times it also will decrease my wait time because when they see that I won’t allow more than six passengers they just cancel the ride, and sometimes at that point it’s already been five minutes. So guess what.
Harry: Right, if it’s been five minutes at that point you should receive a cancellation fee. So I sent you a quick video that I recorded about, well not my cancellation strategy, but a cancellation strategy.
You talked about it a little bit earlier where you kind of use a little bit of a judgement call here and there, and I do the same thing. I’m not the most cutthroat person ever, but if people are keeping me waiting, sometimes depending on my mood if it’s past five minutes I might wait for them, I might not. I don’t want to baby these passengers, but at the same time I also am a human, so I feel empathy towards people that are asking me to wait for them or just generally might be taking a few extra minutes. So did you get a chance to review that? Do you know what I’m talking about, the drivers who are really strict and kind of almost do the opposite of what you do and are hoping for cancellation fees?
Michael: Yeah. I watched that and I’ve actually seen that before. It’s interesting that people do that, and I think as rates start to drop and all of the different tactics that these companies are using, you’re going to see more and more of that, just people really taking advantage of the system. My intent’s never been to not provide a service for someone. You know, people are going to take advantage and people are going to do that. Of course, yes, you do get more money if the ride is cancelled after five minutes. That’s unfortunate. Uber’s just asking for those types of things.
Harry: Yeah, and for those who don’t know exactly, I may not have done the best job explaining it, but basically when you arrive to a destination you have five minutes. After five minutes you can actually cancel on the passenger and charge them. So there are some drivers who basically won’t send a text or they’ll kind of almost get to the destination with the hope that someone won’t come out after five minutes so that they can cancel. That’s all we’re talking about here.
Michael: Hey, there are times, you know? You’re busy and you just get out there, you’re like, “I’m tired of this, I’m tired of these passengers,” but for the most part they’re good people, at least in my market. They’re not trying to gyp you over. They just have this mindset and they’re trained that, “Oh, just go ahead and start the meter. We’ll be there,” like you’re a cab company.” I try to gently tell people, “Just so you understand, the meter is 11 cents a minute.” It’s pennies and it’s just not worth my time. So I try to be professional with it at all times, I try not to have an attitude with people, but it’s hard sometimes. This is my time, I’m out here to make money. They don’t care about the 80 cents, they don’t care what it is, they just want to get somewhere.
Harry: Cool. So going back to the app a little, I’m curious to know, so you had this idea and figured that it would be something that would obviously help you and potentially help others. What were you thinking when you created it? Did you think maybe you’d be happy with a few hundred people downloading it, or this could potentially explode? I’m curious to know what did you think the potential was when you first were kind of toying with the idea and looking into creating it.
Rideshare Timer Beginning
Michael: Sure. It’s interesting how it all kind of happened, but I had left a job that I was at for 14 years. I was in the point of sale, cash registers, restaurant technology type world, and I left my job and basically wanted a project for myself in between the times that I was working. I was working a little bit more during that transition, and it was a nice project for me. I just said, “Hey, I’m going to build it. It’s cheap enough. I can put it up on the store. If people want it, they want it. If they don’t, they don’t. But I’ll just keep using it and it will keep making me money either way.” So I think there’s some real value there. I really do. At the end of the day, it’s $2. It’s less than a cup of coffee or that Monster energy drink that you buy. It’s cheap.
Harry: Yeah, we’ll talk about that expensive price tag you put on it. That’s cool. So you kind of just went in with the mindset that, “This is a simple app. I’m not going to do a ton of market research, just kind of get my feet wet and just do it.”
Michael: Yeah, I just wanted it for myself. So I figured others would.
Harry: Yeah. I’m curious also to know as far as, can you speak to developing cost? I know you said you worked with a firm out of Chicago. Was this thing pretty expensive to develop? Or is that all relative? It sounded like there was a big time investment on your part, too.
Michael: Yeah, there was a big time investment. Surprisingly, there are actually a lot of little intricacies that we had to work out. It was mostly cosmetic stuff and are we going to put branding on the app, are we not going to put branding on it, and so on. Actually the next release that we have, the branding is being removed. I figured if people are paying for it, $2, why not just take it off. Let’s just make it a tool. But we’re also working on a free version that I can do. We’ll get to that later.
The costs were probably, total development, after the fact, updates and new stuff, I’ll be realistic, it was probably about $1,700 maybe. It wasn’t very expensive to build. I will say that there’s a little frustration there, not so much a language barrier, but just the time differences and the hours that I had to put into it. There was a little frustration there. They send you an email at 4:00 in the morning, their 3:00 in the afternoon, and I don’t get it. So everything took two or three days for me to get done.
Harry: No, that’s actually very reasonable. I was worried you were going to say more, but that’s cool. I think that’s very reasonable for what you ended up producing.
Michael: Yeah, well it’s so simple. There’s really not a lot to it.
Harry: Yeah, and that’s what I also actually like about your app, that it is so simple. I think a lot of people, when they’re starting a business or have an idea, they get so caught up in the cosmetic side. Obviously it needs to function well, but kind of like how good it looks, and they forget about, “What’s the core product I’m offering?” Your core product is the timer and the text messaging. So as long as that’s working 100%, that’s really the most important thing, right?
Michael: Absolutely. That’s actually been a struggle for us because we have some drivers that are reaching out to us and they want a tablet version of the app, and currently you need a SIM card in your device in order for it to work. So it’s been a struggle for us with that, but you’ve got to have an SMS gateway, some way to send the text message. As we see support for it and I have time I will put more time and development into that piece, but we have been working on that.
Harry: Very cool. So what have the results been like so far? It sounds like you guys are definitely getting at least a few drivers emailing you about it. Hopefully you guys are doing well. So I’m curious to know what kind of adoption rates you’ve seen and what kind of feedback you’re getting.
Rideshare Timer App Results & Feedback
Michael: You know, the feedback has been really good. There are a few little reviews on the app store, “I wish it did this, I wish it would do that.” It’s kind of tough not to get a little defensive when people complain about something that I never really advertised that it does, but we’ll get there. Go ahead.
Harry: I can tell you I have one bad review on my podcast in iTunes. It’s like three stars and the guy, I’m just like, oh man, this guy. Every time I go in there I see it. It’s so frustrating. So I completely understand what you mean.
Michael: Yeah, and if you look at all of the reviews, I generally try to respond to all of them. This is just a small thing. We’re approaching 500 downloads for the app. The way the Google App Store works is it shows less than 50 downloads, then it’s 100 downloads once you reach that milestone, but then it won’t show anything until you reach 500 downloads. So people are looking at it and they see, “It’s only got 100 downloads. This is probably not a good product,” or what have you, but we’re slowly gaining momentum on it. I’m excited about that.
Harry: Yeah, and one thing to point out is that the app right now is Android only. Is that right?
Harry: So the next obvious question. When’s the iPhone coming out? Because although I am on Android I can imagine about half of my listeners out there thinking this is a cool app, but I have an iPhone.
Michael: Well, we’ve really struggled with that. I’ve talked to local developers and a good buddy of mine who runs a development company out of Dallas, and I’ve said, “Is there any way to do anything remotely similar to this on an iPhone?” He said, “There’s no way.” We’re working on a widget from the pulldown of the top of iPhone to maybe put something in there and allow that to work, but as of today Apple will not allow you to have any sort of an app or widget floating on top of any other app on their screen. They’re just very protective of their ecosystem. It’s a give and take. It’s a very solid product, it works, it functions, but Android is just so much more open source. They’re open to the creativity of developers, and with Apple you’re limited to their developers’ creativity, so to speak, or whatever Apple allows their developers to do.
Harry: Definitely, and that was actually one of the big reasons why I switched from iPhone to Android personally, just because it was so much more open source, although now, long story, I’m on the fence again, but we can talk about that another day.
Michael: I’ll tell you, man, I’ve used both as a driver when I first started. I used the iPhone that they sent out and shipped to me, and then I switched to Android because I had been using it myself as a phone. I said, “Why don’t I just put this on my personal device?”
There are some privacy concerns there. I wish I wouldn’t have done that, but your phone’s basically totally open to Uber, but I’ll tell you and for your listeners, the Android version in my humble opinion is just far superior to the iPhone version. You can actually see the house and the building that they’re in whenever they requested the ride. So as I pull up to somebody’s house I can actually just see the house and I stop right in front of it, right in front of the pin. With iPhone it’s usually a little off here and there. You just don’t see the buildings, or at least you didn’t used to until recently maybe. I’m not sure if it’s still doing it or not.
Harry: Interesting. Cool. Well yeah, you kind of touched on that you guys have sold 500 so far. So that’s great. I think that’s a great start. So I’m curious to know what are you guys doing, it sounds like you’ve gotten a little traction here and there. So what are you guys doing, I mean are you trying to grow this thing? Are you kind of happy with just having it out there as this cool product? What are your current and future plans as far as marketing this app?
Michael: Well, it’s an interesting question. I really wanted to integrate this product with the Uber’s API, so basically their backend integration, and I did a lot of research on that and, man, they are very strict and hard to deal with when it comes to their API. They’ve got two restrictions.
Number one, you cannot integrate with their system if your app increases cancels, and that’s one of the biggest things that they don’t want to do, and this particular app certainly would do that. They also won’t let you charge for the app. I said, “I’m not a multimillion dollar hotel chain wanting to integrate reservations. I’m just a guy who’s just going to charge $1 or $2 for the app and put it out there.”
So I’ve got lots of ideas. We’ve got an update coming out tomorrow. I have it on my phone now and I’m testing it out. I don’t put anything up until I have tested it myself whenever I drive and make sure that everything works the way it should and the messages get sent, but we’re going to allow you to send a message whenever you start the commute timer. So we’ve got a little second timer that we added based on some feedback that some drivers gave me.
They said, “I want to know how long it takes me to get to someone’s pickup. So when I start driving towards them, I want to start a timer so that I know when it’s been five minutes, and I’m safe, if they cancel I get my $5,” or $4.20, whatever it comes out to be in your market. So now we’re going to add the option to send a text message whenever you’re on your way. That can be valuable, especially if it’s a major event or concert or something. On a busy night, you can say, “Please walk two blocks north to XYZ Street and I’ll meet you there. I’m in this car,” or whatever, and it just kind of gives them that heads up, that five or six minutes, however long it takes you to get there. So hopefully, potentially, they get to your car faster.
Harry: Yeah, because as anyone who’s driven a big, big event for Uber, even lately, even the Super Bowl recently, and I was just in Phoenix for the Waste Management Open, which is a huge golf tournament that had 200,000 people in one day, man, they still have not figured out the pickup and drop off thing at the big events. They’re still struggling big time with that.
Michael: It is, and passengers don’t care. They’re sitting in the venue or the concert with the phone in their hand and they request a ride, they drop the pin right in the middle of the arena, and I’m like, “I can’t drive to section 15, row 26, and come pick you up, and there are 19,000 people leaving this arena. I don’t know who you are.” So that message or the text message can really help with that in communicating and getting in contact with them faster.
Harry: Yeah, very cool. One thing you were kind of saying as far as working with the Uber API, which I think might be tough for you guys, but I do feel like there are interesting opportunities for you to work with a SherpaShare or a company that I’ve been doing stuff with, Stride Health.
They just launched a similar mileage and tracking feature called Stride Drive. There are a lot of these companies that are basically trying to help workers, drivers, optimize their earnings, and knowing things like their commute times from when they accept a request to get there and then how long they’re waiting, that’s all the data that I have in my spreadsheets. I’ll link to my spreadsheet, and of course we’ll link to all the apps and everything we talk about here in the show notes, but those are the kind of things I was going out, and literally I have scraps of paper where I was writing it down, like, “Arrived at 12:03, left at 12:05,” just so I could calculate all that.
I feel like there may be some cool integrations for you guys and partnerships that you could explore that would really help drivers use this functionality and get better data and see which opportunities. If I knew my average commute time was seven minutes and I could reduce that to five minutes, then now I’m basically being a more efficient driver, right?
Michael: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I even have thought about a lot of different types of integration like that. There’s certainly data that we could get there. Currently it’s a very basic app. I only need two permissions. One is to send an SMS and the other one is to float and draw over other apps. That’s it. There’s nothing being stored, there’s no data, no personal information or anything there.
I drive with a dashcam. I think every driver should, especially if you’re a male driver and you’re picking up girls by themselves or two girls. You just have to do it. So I’m one of those that I like to save every single ride that I have for at least 30 days. And if it’s a girl by herself I generally will save that indefinitely on my home storage device, just in case four months later, this girl’s been talking to a lawyer trying to say I did something incorrectly.
Harry: Yeah, you never really know. You’re right. We’ve done a bunch of stuff on the blog lately about dashcams. They’re such a cheap $100, $150. That’s like an insurance policy right there, as long as you’re not doing anything you shouldn’t be doing, of course.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the integrations I’ve thought about and considered. It would take a lot more time and effort, but whenever I stop the timer, start the timer, and arrive at the location it could automatically sync up with my dashcam and allow me to delete all the dead miles a lot quicker than it currently takes. Currently it’s about 20 minutes or so for me to go through all my dashcam footage and get rid of it. So little integrations like that I think would be really neat, but I have to really test those things and make sure that they work and what dashcams are they going to work with, and there are all kinds of things to consider.
Harry: Cool. So it sounds like you’ve got some future plans for some more improvements and kind of tinkering here and there. Is there anything big on the horizon as far as a new app? Or are you kind of just going to keep this as a side project going forward?
Michael: It’s just a side project right now. Again, I’m going to look at adding a branded free version of the app that will not send a text or anything. That’s really the true value, I think, with the timer itself. So I’m looking at putting something up. If people want a floating timer that sits there and is always visible they can have a free version, but it won’t do any kind of functionality.
You know, I can’t advertise with this app. People pay or get a lot of free apps on the app store, and they’re big, bulky things that have ads running in the background. Well, this particular app just sits on your home screen all the time. I can’t make you watch a three minute video. There’s really no way to advertise or monetize this. I’m like, hey, $2 and it’s yours. It’ll work.
Harry: Awesome. Michael, I think this is a really cool and almost kind of inspiring story, too, because I know there are a lot of drivers out there with that entrepreneurial mindset and those that are using rideshare as a stepping stone to something bigger and better or figuring out ways that they can even leverage their driving career, whether it’s through referrals or networking.
I love your story because you kind of saw this small need and decided to make a little project out of it, and it doesn’t sound like it’s making you rich, but I think you’re learning a lot and probably gaining some super valuable experience that could. And obviously the potential is still there. So what’s kind of your biggest takeaway from this project and what advice do you give to drivers out there who are listening?
Michael: I think it’s the whole process. Like you said, I’ve really learned a lot from this development. Again, I haven’t made any money off the app. I’m still at a loss right now.
Harry: I think you’ll at least end up breaking even.
Michael: You know what, I hope so. It’s never been about the money for me. Of course all of our time’s valuable, so I never wanted to or thought I would get rich doing this. It was just to serve a need that I had and I thought others would have. So I think one of the biggest things that drivers need to really think about and consider is just being professional with this. It’s not the customer’s and passenger’s fault at the end of the day. They get upset about these cancels, they get upset about drivers just pulling away right in front of them, and it’s like, “If you’re not in my car in five minutes, I’m done.” So I think drivers just need to utilize everything that they have and enjoy what they do.
Harry: Cool, awesome. Well, so if people want to get in contact with you, where can they find your app and where can they find you?
Michael: Right now the app is on the Android Store. It’s Rideshare Timer. You can go to ridesharetimer.com and there’s a link straight to it. We have a Facebook page as well, and it’s pretty easy. I have a feedback button inside the app that sends an email directly to me. I’m currently pretty good at getting back with people pretty quickly, helping them out if they have questions, what have you. So I’m always available to help people as much as I can with anything on it.
Harry: Awesome. We’ll definitely leave a link in the show notes to your site and where they can download the timer and everything else we talked about. So with that being said, Michael, I appreciate you coming on and I look forward to seeing big things from you in the future.
Michael: You too. I really appreciate everything that you do. You do a good service in educating drivers and new drivers and just keeping them in the loop as to what’s going on out there. So I think it’s a great service what you do.
Harry: Awesome, thanks. Take care, bud.
Michael: Thank you.
Harry: All right. Thanks again one more time to Michael for coming on the podcast and telling us all about his app, the Rideshare Timer. We’ll leave a link to that app in the show notes. You guys can hop on there and check it out and see how it works.
I know for me I really enjoy Michael’s story because it was one where he saw this need, he saw this problem, and there wasn’t a solution out there, and he decided to go out and build it. It wasn’t because he wanted to make a ton of money and it wasn’t because he thought it would be the greatest product on earth. It was just something that seemed like a challenge, and it seemed like something he wanted to learn about.
I know for me in my life that’s always something that I’m trying to apply, constantly trying to learn, trying new things, and I think that building an app is definitely one of those things on my checklist. So I know for any of you guys out there considering it, hopefully this podcast was inspiring. I know after our interview I told myself I felt like, hey, I need to go build an app right now. So that was kind of the feeling, my takeaway really from talking with Michael, and it’s definitely cool to hear that he’s had some success getting off the ground a little bit so far.
Hopefully this podcast will get him a few more hundred downloads and he’ll be able to get up over that 500 number, at least break even, and take things from there and see what happens.
So if you guys have any questions definitely feel free to reach out to me, reach out to him. I definitely want to say that Michael’s story is a cool one. I love hearing from this. So if you guys have a similar story feel free to pitch me for the podcast. I actually do a couple case studies like this over on Maximum Ridesharing Profits, our video training course, because I think that for a lot of drivers out there.
Drivers are using this as kind of that stepping stone to either hone in on their entrepreneurial skills to use this job as driving temporarily so that they can build something better, and as we talked about, and Michael kind of agreed with me on the podcast, rideshare driving works for a lot of people full-time, but I think it’s really best suited in that part-time spot so that you can really go out there and pursue real ventures, things that you’re passionate about, and I know that’s one of the things that I’ve been able to leverage and kind of take away from it.
So that’s definitely something that I enjoy, and if you guys want to read a little bit more about that or learn a little bit more about that side of the business, definitely check out the video course. I’ll leave a link in the show notes, maximumridesharingprofits.com. You can see a couple case studies and learn a little bit more about what people are doing in that entrepreneurial and kind of business realm. So make sure you check out the show notes, subscribe to email, you’ll get notified of all the new articles, all the new podcast, therideshareguy.com/episode35, and of course if you have any questions feel free to contact me, reach out, Harry@therideshareguy.com or find us on social media on the Facebook page, facebook.com/therideshareguy and on Twitter @therideshareguy. So lots of easy ways to connect with us, and until next time, I look forward to hearing from you. Take care!
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This is a transcript of Episode 35: Michael Tee on Launching The App Rideshare Timer. You can find show notes, comments and more by clicking here. You can also listen to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
I’m Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I’m a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.