Simple in operation, the app awards the driver a point for every minute driven without using the device in a detrimental way. If the cellphone is used in a way that could cause distraction, points are deducted.
Points can be redeemed through the app for rewards. The rewards are provided by brand partners that stand to benefit from the exposure and the “halo effect” of contributing to what is potentially a lifesaving program.
Mr. Frankel said brand partners also benefited because drivers were apt to buy other goods when claiming a reward. For example, if you earn a Shake Shack milkshake, you might buy a burger, too.
Asked how his company, also known as This App Saves Lives, generated revenue, Mr. Frankel said that once the app had proved it was generating revenue for initial brand partners, new partners would be charged a fee. In addition, his company conducts challenges for companies with numerous commuting employees and collects a fee for the service. The employees compete to see who can accumulate the most points and are rewarded by their employer.
The app’s technology can potentially be cheated. Users could accumulate points if the app launched while they were riding a bus or train, but the company has ways to reduce this behavior, and Mr. Frankel said the brand partners had not expressed any concerns.
His company is based in Philadelphia, the only place where the app has been introduced. According to Mr. Frankel, six weeks after the app’s introduction in November 2018, over 10,000 drivers were using it. Some Philadelphia businesses have signed on as partners, and two national marketers, Shake Shack and Urban Outfitters, are also participating.
So who is using the app? “Many of our users are students,” Mr. Frankel said. “They’re the worst offenders, so we’re going after a young demographic to try to alleviate the problem at its earliest stage.”