Goober app parodies lack of ride-sharing services in St. Louis
Getting around St. Louis can be tricky. Even with the MetroLink system and taxi service, the city lacks ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. With Uber, for example, a person can request a ride with the press of a button through the app. A credit or debit card to which Uber automatically charges the fare is placed on file when a user signs up. Uber’s pricing is often cheaper, so it’s a convenient substitute for expensive cabs.
Currently, St. Louis is the only major city in the United States that doesn’t have Uber. Considering that our major tourist attraction is a giant metal arch, the lack of Uber service isn’t exactly helping St. Louis’ appeal. The main opposition to Uber is coming from the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC). The group wants to protect the taxi industry, and having competition from Uber is threatening. The MTC would also require potential Uber drivers to get fingerprinted and drug tested, in addition to Uber’s own private background test. This extra mandate also makes Uber somewhat reluctant to enter the market. The city has been deliberating for the past few months on the subject, but progress seems to have stagnated.
But Kyle Tabor, Chris Zempel, Michael McGreal and Tyler Kessler aren’t having it.
This group of tech-savvy St. Louisians created a web-based parody app called Goober, which satirizes the struggle to bring Uber to St. Louis. Frustrated by the fact that St. Louis is the only major city in the United States that doesn’t have Uber, the four of them created Goober during a recent hack-a-thon. Upon pitching the idea, they were joined by Edward Domain, founder and CEO of Techli, to work on the project.
Initially, the project was meant to be nothing more than a joke. But after receiving a surprising amount of press in such a short period of time, the founders shifted the goal to overtly promoting community activism in hopes of bringing Uber to St. Louis.
Tabor, the idea’s originator, has quite the background for the project: He is an engineer with a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University’s business program. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Invisible Industries, which produces an app that will create a fake boyfriend or girlfriend to convince a user’s family that he or she is dating someone. Using the existing technology from Invisible Industries, Tabor and his co-creators developed a website that parallels the Uber app’s map scheme, topping it off with a text message generator. So far, the app has been tested by almost 500 users.
The app’s home screen depicts Jim Carrey’s character from “Dumb and Dumber,” who Tabor describes as “the ultimate goober.” The user puts in his or her phone number and a fake address, which directs the user to a screen that looks similar to Uber’s app: a car circling around on a map as it moves toward a destination. The car, however, doesn’t ever reach its destination, instead circling around endlessly. During this time, the user receives a series of text messages from the “driver,” to which they can respond. Ultimately, the driver sends snarky responses about why he’s never picking up the user. The community activism comes in at the end; the last text from the driver is a link to two pre-written tweets directed at city officials, urging them to bring Uber to St. Louis.
In terms of expanding Goober, Tabor says its future is not concrete—they’ll be playing it by ear for now. The fight to bring Uber to St. Louis, however, is far from over. Tabor believes that placing more pressure on those who run the city will bring change.
“If we don’t make a ruckus, nothing will happen,” he said. “We are the future of St. Louis. Stop ignoring us.”
Test it out for yourself at getgoober.com.