An argument can be made that the inevitable shift to electric-powered vehicles will be at least as profound a commercial revolution as the rise of mobile applications over the last three years.
Serial entrepreneur Brian Kariger is heavily invested in each as his company created the Recargo iPhone application. Launched about a year ago with a significant update earlier this summer, Recargo showcases where electric vehicle owners can power their cars, and provides other community and content offerings around clean transformation.
In this edition of Meet the Makers, we check-in with Kariger, who in a previous life founded to parent company of Dictionary.com. Kariger explains the social as well as financial returns he is seeking from Recargo, his future Android plans, and how today’s tech economy compares to the dot-com boom of the late nineties.
Appolicious: While mobile applications have existed for several years, they didn't really take off with mainstream consumers until Apple opened up the iTunes App Store three years ago. Do you see a similar tipping point on the horizon for electric vehicles?
Brian Kariger: For me we have already passed one tipping point, and that was when Tesla delivered production cars to customers. The owners' reaction to the Roadster was emphatically positive at a time when consumer opinion of automakers, especially American OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), was at an all-time low. That woke up many in the industry who had written off electric vehicles and galvanized those who believed in their potential.
BK: After leaving Dictionary.com, I wanted to focus on projects that had meaning to me personally. I was looking for businesses that have social returns as well as financial. I love cars, maps, software and the planet, not necessarily in that order, and it all came together in Recargo.
APPO: How are you driving downloads for an app that is now already a year old?
BK: Beyond increased media outreach, we are focused on being responsive to our users and continuing to develop the app in ways that answer and anticipate their needs. Customers who are satisfied and actively engaged are our best brand evangelists.
APPO: I understand you plan on developing an Android app. What is your timetable, and will that app offer different services for Android users?
BK: We are working on an Android version and we hope to get a version out before the end of this year. We will make the most of Android's unique capabilities.
APPO: As a founder of Dictionary.com, you are well versed in the interactive space. Compare and contrast the mobile media space of the last few years to the early days of the commercial web in the late 1990s.
APPO: What attributes are investors looking for today in mobile application companies that they may have sped past a dozen years ago during the dot-com frenzy?
BK: I'm not sure that investors are looking for anything different now.
APPO: TechCrunch reported plans of Recargo created a "mobile app development studio.” Can you elaborate?
BK: This is our first app and we plan to continue to enhance it while we look at other opportunities to serve our core users - connected automobile drivers - on the most convenient screen for them, be it desktop, the smartphone or on the car's dashboard.
APPO: Name the three biggest things in the mobile media space keeping you up at night and explain why.
BK: 1. Traffic safety.
2. Accuracy and trustworthiness of information.
3. Nuclear weapons. Have you seen the movie Countdown to Zero?