We talked to Ryan Frankel of This App Saves Lives about the free mobile app-based solution that rewards drivers that don’t engage in phone-based distracted driving.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ryan Frankel: Thank you for asking. We feel very fortunate to be healthy and especially lucky that members of our families are also safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded This App Saves Lives.
Ryan Frankel: I’m a serial entrepreneur, and currently the Founder and CEO of This App Saves Lives (“TASL”), a free mobile app-based solution that rewards drivers who don’t engage in phone-based distracted driving. Several years ago, I was injured and nearly killed when a driver ran a red light while texting. I found TASL to put an end to such dangerous behavior. With TASL, drivers earn rewards points for driving undistracted, and these points are redeemable for amazing rewards from our merchant partners (Shake Shack, anyone?!). This App Saves Lives is a proud Techstars portfolio company. Previously, I co-founded the language translation platform, VerbalizeIt, which was later sold to Smartling. I’m also an Ironman triathlete, mentor, writer, and proud father.
How does This App Saves Lives innovate?
Ryan Frankel: We’re constantly in touch with our customers and always looking for opportunities to improve our product, service, and overall quality of our business. I personally spend an hour of every day talking with our members, which helps us learn and then enhance the caliber of our business on a regular basis.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ryan Frankel: At the outset, COVID resulted in fewer drivers on the road, which directly impacted our business. Today, however, more drivers are taking to the roads and opting for cars instead of public transportation. This migration from one mode of transportation to another has resulted in a healthy uptick of activity in our business and makes our mission to end distracted driving even more important.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ryan Frankel: We decided not to impose fees on the merchant partners who form the backbone of our business model and incentives system until these great companies were on a sounder footing. Doing so had a near-term impact on revenue but enabled us to further engender goodwill with our merchant partners, who are even more committed to working with us now than ever.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and This App Saves Lives in the future?
Ryan Frankel: Growing a business is a marathon, and while there will always be challenges and seemingly insurmountable hurdles, the best entrepreneurs are able to balance the highs with the lows to avoid all-consuming stresses and anxiety. I also use fitness and wellness as an outlet. I’ve found that taking part in physical activity has not only allowed me to manage stress but it has also enabled me to come up with fresh ideas and perspectives on many of these challenges.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ryan Frankel: We compete with larger insurance companies who offer safe driving discounts, and we stay relative and in the game by providing far more exciting rewards and incentives, coupled with a unique gamification system that appeals to our audience.
Your final thoughts?
Ryan Frankel: We’re living through unprecedented times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to thrive in our personal and professional lives. The moment I stopped worrying about when “life would return to normal” and instead focused on how this new normal affords the opportunity to tackle new hobbies, business models, and personal endeavors were the moment when I started to thrive. We can all reframe our perspectives and use this period of time to learn more about ourselves and better our businesses and personal lives.
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