Raise your hand if you agree with this statement: the Metro and buses are unreliable.
Wow, yeah, that’s a lot of hands. Scott Simpson and Chetan Shenoy think so too, so they decided to leave iStrategy Labs, where Scott did graphic design and Chetan coded, to create a product from scratch that would help you get around DC.
Much to their surprise, their iOS app, CapitolHop, was approved in a very fast 4 days in December. It was the first app they had ever built, and in fact Chetan did not know anything about iOS development 4 months ago. Obviously, he’s a fast learner, because a month after beta testing, CapitolHop officially launched on January 27 – you can download it here. Here’s their story:
Where did the idea for Capitol Hop come from?
Scott Simpson: Neither of us own cars, so we take the Metro and buses a lot, and they’re so unreliable. There are multiple apps to check when the next bus or train is coming or that show the next departure at a quick glance, but we wanted to create an all-in-one solution that commuters could look at.
Chetan Shenoy: We also wanted something that worked in real-time. You wouldn’t know if the bus you saw on an app was updated 5 minutes ago.
In 140 characters or less, what does your startup do?
SS: CapitolHop is a simple and beautiful way to navigate DC with real-time metro and bus departure updates and alerts.
Why is your startup useful?
CS: The real-time aspect is a major thing. The interface is simple to use, so there’s no futzing around with it.
SS: You can check your train or bus departure at a glance. We have this swipe feature to get the next 3 departures for the a bus stop or metro stop.
What is your business model?
SS: It’s free and we’re gonna keep it free. We’ll start building in some in-app purchases over the next month. One of our ideas is to help people know when to leave home to catch their train or bus, so you can pay $.99 to have that feature added to your app.
What do you need, and what do you want?
CS: Ideally, users over anything else, so we know what people are using it for and what they want as a feature.
SS: Just getting feedback from people – what’s easiest to use, what’s difficult.
What about over the long-term – what do you want CapitolHop to be?
CS: We want the app to expand to other cities and become synonymous with transit and getting around a city.
Who is your biggest competitor, and why are you better?
SS: TransitApp, iTransDC, and MetroandBus. They have a lot of users in DC.
CS: In terms of iTrans and Metro, they are not real-time, they just spit out data willy-nilly. It’s very passive. With Transit, it’s real-time for them, but the way they present the information can be confusing around where some of the stops are, since they don’t pinpoint it on the map, and ours does.
Tell me something unique or interesting about you or your company that most people don’t know.
CS: We are big fans of Scotch, and we try to have as many Scotch tastings as possible and discover new ones we haven’t had before. We are sort of carrying that tradition over from iStrategy Labs to CapitolHop.
SS: We try to make it a monthly thing, but we’ve been so busy – we need to get back on that!
Download the CapitolHop app here.