Carla - a win-win-win project

At Intunio, we love new ideas and we’re always thinking about potential new products and services. Some of them are, to be honest, not that great, but every now and then we do come up with some pretty awesome things. We would love to be able to develop all of these creative ideas, and release one or two new products each year. Unfortunately, many of these ideas never see the light of day as products, simply due to a lack of time and resources. However, sometimes the stars align and we are able to create something like Carla. Carla is not, surprisingly, an employee at Intunio, rather it is a service.

A few years back we were playing with the idea of creating services to give back to the community, and we had an idea about an app for carpooling. Carpooling is good in so many ways; it’s good for the environment, it’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it lets you socialise on your way to work. Unfortunately carpooling hasn’t really had a breakthrough in Sweden (perhaps due to the ‘socialising with strangers’ part). We wanted to change that with a service like Carla. At the time we didn’t have the resources to develop the idea ourselves, so Carla sat on the proverbial shelf for a few months. As Intunio took on interns, Carla got some love and was slowly expanded beyond the initial idea, but was not quite ready for prime time so back on the shelf it went.

In the fall of 2017, Intunio was contacted by six students from Chalmers University of Technology (Elias Lind, Luka Mrkonjic, Louise Hultén, Oscar Hansson, Johannes Kjellberg, and Anton Lindegren). They were on track to write their bachelor’s thesis and were wondering if we had anything we thought might make a good subject, and thus Carla was dusted off for a third time; and as we all know, third time’s a charm. One thing that Carla had always lacked was a business model, so the team was challenged not only to design an epic app for Carla, with awesome UX, but also develop a solid business model for it.

Intunio pitched Carla to MobilityXlab, an accelerator founded by Ericsson, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group, Zenuity, CEVT, and Veoneer, and hosted by Lindholmen Science Park. “MobilityXlab offers young companies with pioneering ideas the opportunity to accelerate through the possibility to strategic partnership with six global players within mobility and connectivity.” They were impressed by Carla and offered us a spot at their collaboration hub, allowing our students access to additional support for their thesis.

Through interviews, user research, and a lot of reading, the students and Intunio began to understand the dynamics behind people’s decisions when it comes to ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS). Turns out, we had a lot of work to do, or rather the students did, as there are several hurdles to overcome in order to figure out a way to make the service attractive in the long run. One of the hardest thing is not to get people to try the app but rather to have them keep using it (retention). The result of all this work was an excellent prototype that showed off even more of Carla’s potential. Nevertheless, the story doesn’t end there as Ericsson learned of Carla, with its focus on sustainability, and decided to offer our students summer internships in order to further develop the project. MaaS is important for the future of Ericsson as they provide the new 5G technology that is required to make it work seamlessly. Following the conclusion of the summer internships Ericsson started working on a pilot test for Carla, together with Intunio.

Carla ended up a win-win-win project. At Intunio, we got to see our baby become a teenager, the students wrote a terrific thesis which you can read in full here, and Ericsson found a partner to collaborate with around the idea of carpooling. We want to thank and congratulate Anton, Louise, Elias, Johannes, Luka, and Oscar on a job well done, and we hope to work with them again in the future. Here’s to Carla and many more projects like it!