Would you leave your iPhone safely tucked away during a car ride for a dollar off of your latte at Le Parisien Cafe? How about 20 percent off of a haircut at Salon D? Would a 10 percent savings on a booking at Xcape Room in Fresno entice you?
A new app recently launched by Clovis High graduate Connor Myers aims to stop the texting-while-driving habit of local motorists by offering these incentives.
“How it works is if you don’t use your phone while driving, you earn points, and with those points, we are partnering with local small businesses where you can actually redeem these points for discounts, rewards and coupons as a reward for driving safely,” he explained. “The cool thing is it’s an incentive for you to not text and drive, but it’s also an advertising opportunity for businesses to reach potential customers who wouldn’t have been brought to them in traditional advertising ways.”
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So far 15 businesses, totalling 27 locations throughout Fresno and Clovis, have partnered with the application.
“If you don’t text and drive, you’re going to earn points every 10 seconds,” Myers said. “If you do text and drive, you’re going to lose all those points you’ve accumulated, so don’t even pick up your phone at stop lights. At the end of your drive, it’ll calculate how many points you should get.”
Surrounded by software developers at Bitwise, Conner kept the app under wraps until the October tentative launch. An official launch party is in the works for mid-November, Myers said.
Spacebar Technologies has begun outreach with local police departments and high schools to bring awareness to the issue of distracted driving and the use of the app.
“We’re targeting the young demographic, obviously anyone who drives a car and owns a smartphone,” said Myers, 21. “If you look at the death total due to distracted driving, about two-thirds of it is kids 16 to 24, which is my age range. We are targeting them not only because they’re going to be redeeming the rewards the most, but they’re also going to be the ones most affected by texting and driving. And nothing is worse than losing a kid.”
Distracted driving hits close to home for Spacebar Technologies cofounder Jim Nakamura.
“He was in a car accident with someone texting and driving and was in a coma for a couple months,” Myers said. “He had brain damage, but has since recovered. He lost a year of school because of it.”
Nakamura went on to graduate from Fresno State as a Smittcamp Family Honors College student.
Myers, a 2013 Clovis High graduate, started off as a mechanical engineering major at Fresno State, then switched to computer science and then to entrepreneurship.
“I couldn’t really find my fit in school per se, so I decided school wasn’t for me and I wanted to run the business,” he said. “In entrepreneurship, they say to do something that has meaning and something you love. I love startups, I love companies; I’m an entrepreneur through and through.”
Passenger Mobile app gives Myers a reason to get out of bed every morning, he said.
“One day I’m going to potentially save thousands of lives a year, plus I get to do my entrepreneurship and make a little money while doing it,” he said.
Myers said he is a supporter of education — nearly everyone employed at Spacebar Technologies has a degree — but he is also a huge advocate for entrepreneurship.
“There is more to life than just working and having a steady job and going to school and working for the man — I wanted to be the man,” Myers said. “Doing what I do is not for everyone. It’s long, hard 16-hour days every single day of the week ... But if there’s that thought in their head, that thing they want to start or the business they want to build — just do it now. Go for it.”
Myers and his team are going for it — the goal is to have Passenger Mobile used by motorists nationwide.
“I truly believe in not only stopping texting and driving, but I also believe in helping my city and helping college kids all around the country to get internships with us and our sales team,” he said. “I definitely want to grow it nationwide and truly make a big impact and difference.”
Download the app at www.passengermobile.com or in the App Store.