Do you get bored in the car? Sure you do,everybody does. Now in a lot of states, it’s illegal to do anything on your smartphone that requires you to actually hold the phone. Playing Angry Birds at a stop light is a little too risky, you don’t want to get a ticket, or cause an accident.
Well there’s got to be a way to play games in the car without actually holding the phone. A Boston startup incubating at Dog Patch Labs, called BRIGHTdriver has the answer, audio games.
BRIGHTdrivers unique and fun games are audio based and don’t require you to actually hold the phone to play. BRIGHTdrivers audio games are as safe as talking hands free on your mobile phone or yelling out the answers to the dj’s trivia question on the radio.
Currently BRIGHTdriver offers three titles. Volley, is their pub style trivia game. Careoke is BRIGHTdriver’s sing-a-long Karaoke game and Best Mile is a game that challenges you to drive your best (and safest) mile. They have plans to introduce more games as the platform gets off the ground.
BRIGHTdriver’s platform is set up to allow you to play by yourself or against others on the BRIGHTdriver network.
The BRIGHTdriver team has taken to Kickstarter to help fund their official launch. You can donate to their Kickstarter campaign here and get cool perks like early access to this exciting new platform
We got a chance to talk with BRIGHTdriver founder Matt Albrecht about his unique new spin on mobile gaming. Check out the interview below.
What is Bright Driver?
We make driving fun again with an interactive audio entertainment that is as safe as the radio. BRIGHTdriver’s iPhone app provides audio games that everyone in the car can play, all hands free.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)
BRIGHTdriver is an app for your iPhone. Simply start before you begin driving and BRIGHTdriver will run audio games that you can play while driving solo, or with passengers. You can even compete against your friends who are driving on their own. You can think of what we do like social interactive radio.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Jacob Silber and Matt Albrecht founded BRIGHTdriver in 2011 and have backgrounds in building consumer products. Jacob was previously an executive for a consumer building products company and Matt previously built consumer mobile applications for both job matching and energy businesses. Matt and Jacob are graduates of MIT’s Sloan School of Management
Where are you based?
We are based out of Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge, MA.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Dogpatch Labs is an incubator where we share space with 30 other start-ups. There are the typical incubator things happening at Dogpatch-nerf gun shootouts, and bouncy balls seats, as well as beers in the kitchen to commemorate a product launch or closing an investment. Also, just having a community to network with and share ideas as well as resources is incredibly helpful. There is also a big serendipity component of being in Cambridge…you “run” into a lot of folks that can help your business.
How did you come up with the idea for Bright Driver?
We both had really boring commutes and found the existing entertainment options either tiring, like radio and podcasts, or dangerous, like texting and phone calls. We wanted to allow people to access their smartphone in a safe way to stay socially connected, and entertained.
How did you come up with the name?
We wanted to show that our company was making driving fun again and bringing some joy to the daily commute or long road trip. BRIGHTdriver just seemed like a great fit.
What problem does BrightDriver solve?
Driving stinks! Its lonely, boring, and all the things you love about your smartphone are broken in the car. BRIGHTdriver is here to change that!
Some numbers behind it: There are 128 million Americans who are commuting each day, and most, around 80%, are driving solo. The average American spends approximately 15 hours a week in their car. That is lost time!
What’s your secret sauce?
BRIGHTdriver has developed a completely new way to reduce distracted driving through its “Smart Passenger” concept of interactive entertainment. Using high quality audio, voice recognition, and a road assessment algorithm, the company has created a way to keep drivers both entertained and engaged during their daily drives.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
We have bootstrapped since founding last year!
What is your go-to market strategy?
We are currently testing out a few direct marketing strategies and we are in discussions with game distribution partners. Currently we are running a campaign on Kickstarter to begin sharing our story.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Building our product. At one point while we were interviewing candidates for a lead developer position, we asked ourselves “Why can’t we develop the app on our own? Jacob has a strong IT/engineering background. Jacob took on the job of coding our app and learned how to develop in iOS, and I focused on game design, user interface, and audio recording. We built our prototype in 2 months. Since then several top CTO’s have said that we’ve developed an elegant solution to a big technical challenge. It was a very proud moment!
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Some of the best minds in the business have come together to support this project: Mike Dornbrook, the “adult supervision” at Harmonix, maker of Guitar Hero. Jeff Walker, an expert engineer, previously with Paypal, and voice-recognition and an interface scientists from MIT. We are very fortunate to be able to call on them when we have a question or need help.
What’s next for BrightDriver?
We will launch our platform and first two games this winter. In addition we are in partnership discussions with major car insurance carriers and car manufacturers about implementations of our technology to applications such as teen drivers, fuel efficiency and long haul trucking. We are also exploring how the technology can be extended to enable interactive overlays on existing radio shows. Drivers could have a hands-free, safe way to answer polls, win contests and engage radio show hosts. A lot is happening!