I feel downright awful when I drive long distances to an event only to discover that someone from my town, or nearby, is there, and (what's worse) that person drove solo, too. I used to feel this a lot more when I lived in Santa Cruz and was commuting over "the hill" every day into Silicon Valley for work or for technology-related briefings and conferences.
Enter ZoomPool, which is attempting to combine the philosophies of social networking with a service that is more "ridesharing" than "carpooling." Founded by veterinary surgeon Donna Horne, ZoomPool aims to help its members find the ideal person to share a ride. The service is not meant to facilitate long-term carpooling arrangements, rather it is focused on situations where you want to go from Point A to Point B one time only and you're looking for someone to chat with along the way.
"It's not environmentally sound AND it is boring to ride alone," says Horne.
Right now, ZoomPool services are focused on the San Francisco Bay Area where it now has more than 200 members, but the service is technically nationwide. Horne is seeking funding to help facilitate expansion. After all, she still has a day job.
To take advantage of the service, you have to set up a profile (which is free). When you're looking for a specific ride, you don't just enter the whys and wherefores of where you are going, you also offer data related to your interests or even your music preferences -- so you don't get stuck listening to opera for an hour when you're strictly a barbershop kind of person. If you want to pay $15 annually for a premium membership, you can make sure that whomever you're paired with for a ride has passed a background/security check.
You donate up to 20 cents per mile towards a ride if you're not the driver (payments are handled through ZoomPool) but there are limits on how many passengers a single driver can take to one place. After all, this isn't meant to be a taxi service.
Horne allied with another Web 2.0 start-up, EventBrite, back in August. When an event producer enters their parameters, they can add a SmartBadge for ZoomPool that will let them take advantage of the ridesharing option. So, event organizers can encourage higher attendance, while feeling a little better about how attendees are getting there.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com