Put the phone down, earn prizes.
That’s the premise of SAFE 2 SAVE, a mobile app that rewards users for staying off their phones while driving. Since its launch in Fall 2016, it has grown to attract more than 70,000 users. And its founder – Mays former student Marci Corry ’01 – is continually working to improve it and increase its reach.
While having a conversation with a Texas A&M University student, Corry noticed everyone around them was on their phone. “As I reflected on that and the dangers of texting, especially while driving, it hit me that I should start a positive app that targets adults as well as teens that would encourage people to be hands-free,” said Corry.
The tipping point came when she heard the news of a 19-year-old student who lost his life after he was struck by a driver who was texting. “That’s when I knew I needed to start this company to help grow the awareness and prevent distracted driving as much as we could in Aggieland,” said Corry.
Launching the app
Corry researched behavior change, and drew from her experience with her young children, who responded well to positive reinforcement. She launched SAFE 2 SAVE in October 2016, and she credits the launch’s success to the efforts of Texas A&M students. “In addition to A&M students helping us through the beta test phase and giving great advice, I hired several to be ambassadors to help spread the word about the app,” said Corry. In spring 2018, Marketing Professor Janet Parrish’s honors marketing class adopted SAFE 2 SAVE as a project. “They helped do a great analysis of [the app], and offered helpful recommendations we implemented.”
Corry could tell SAFE 2 SAVE had changed driving behaviors and helped dictate where people choose to eat, but it was unclear whether the app would turn a profit. In the beginning, that wasn’t a priority.
Local businesses that were part of the first six-month test with SAFE 2 SAVE noticed it was helping drive new traffic to their businesses. Corry decided to monetize by having businesses pay instead of the users.
A foundation at Mays
As Corry reflected on her time at Mays, she mentioned how the business school had prepared her to become an entrepreneur grounded in preparing a better future for generations to come.
“Mays Business School taught me to think well and be strategic in everything you do. I had excellent marketing and management professors and the Fellows Program as well as the Eisenhower Leadership program back in 2000 helped me tremendously.”
Corry also values the network Mays provided her, from connections through Startup Aggieland to Richard Lester and Jose Quintana to strategic coaching from Chris Field to market research with Kelli Hollinger of the Center for Retailing Studies and Unnai Narang,a doctoral student in the Department of Marketing. “We love having the brightest minds propel this mission forward,” Corry said.
SAFE 2 SAVE has expanded to such cities as Brenham, Madisonville, Waco, Midland, Odessa, Cypress, and The Woodlands. Plans are in motion to expand throughout the Greater Houston Area and San Antonio by August. Still, Corry has bigger aspirations.
“The plan is to go Texas-wide and then nationwide,” says Corry. “We filed a patent, as we are the only ones doing undistracted driving rewards in this way.”
Corry’s advice for young people who have an entrepreneurial spirit:
- Dream big and go about it with a curious posture
- Host dinner parties that turn into focus groups with dear friends that help point you into positive directions
- Read LEAN Startup
- Get involved with advisors who have scaled companies before
- Stay coachable
- Listen well to wise voices
- Be willing to pivot
- Care more about making a difference than making a profit
- Hire well