“Where are you traveling?” “What do you do?”
Invariably, on a long flight or at a social dinner with people I have just met, I hear these questions. Being a storyteller at heart, and prone to long discourse, I have learned to be succinct:
“Our company invented a device called Groove that stops texting while driving. Groove is a small box you plug into your car. Within seconds of starting a drive, Groove determines who the driver is and alerts your mobile phone provider, that you, or your son, or spouse is driving so that the carrier can stop dangerous distractions before they get to the driver’s phone. Senders of blocked messages receive a text saying that their message will be forwarded when the drive is over. Within seconds of ending the drive, full phone function is restored. We are working diligently with Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint to make it available to their subscribers.”
Looks of astonishment cross their faces, and then the questions come in a rush:
“I need that—right now! I have a son who’s 15 and about to drive, and I’m frightened silly! Where can I get it?”
“I would buy that for me! I’m going to have an crash some day…I can’t help myself.”
“That’s brilliant! The mobile phone providers must be falling over themselves to be the first to make it available!”
I often ask these folks what they would be willing to pay monthly for Groove: $2? $5? $10? $25?
The response is usually north of $10. When I explain that it would cost them less than $10—with their insurance company likely to cover the costs—they become even more animated.
“When can I get it? What’s holding it up? Can I be a part of a pilot? I would switch phone companies for this!
And invariably they ask, “Why are the carriers taking so long???”
I’ve talked to hundreds of people informally, and most share a similar, visceral, passionate response: “We need this now!”
When I explain that Groove is likely to launch in Australia before the U.S., jaws drop, brows furrow, and the questions shift to “What the heck is going on?”
There is a book to be written around Katasi and Groove’s five-year journey and the carrier partnerships needed to bring it to life … The Groove technology itself has not held up deployment. The real challenge? Creating a partnership between the smart entrepreneurial team who came up with the answer to a national problem and the $50 billion dollar companies that are a necessary part of the solution.
Will one or more U.S. carriers deploy Groove in 2016? Absolutely.
Do we know which ones? Not yet, but we have an inkling.
Will Australia beat us to it? Possibly.
Would hundreds of lives have been saved if Groove had been launched two years ago? Without a doubt.
So what the heck IS going on?
For four years we’ve been in the belly of the beast with the carriers as they wrestle with three competing pressures: their conscience, a desire to do something beyond just educating about the dangers of texting while driving, and the uncomfortable reality that they take bold action only when it means good business.
There are many dozens of advocates for Groove within the carriers, each pushing internally to have their companies be the first to introduce THE solution to the problem and to demonstrate that their company has the cojones to apply their network expertise to saving lives.
We are working closely with these teams to build the business cases to C-level management to show that saving lives can be a $100 million business for them: monies ultimately paid for in the inestimable currency of lives saved.
We are working directly with senior carrier execs who want to deploy Groove but need a solid business case to justify such such a bold move.
We are working with government agencies, NHTSA, FCC, Congressional staff, and the White House Office of Technology to urge the teams to encourage the companies to do the right thing—without federal mandates.
We are working with multiple insurance companies, who are making it clear that they will bring business to the carrier that is willing to step up and deploy Groove, and that they will provide discounts or give Groove away to further its adoption.
We are working with influential entertainment industry celebrities who are willing to provide high-profile sponsorships to advance the Groovement..
We are working closely with national press champions for Groove to show them the opportunity in front of us all in hopes they can nudge the Groovement forward.
All are focused on helping the carriers with the three roadblocks that have slowed Groove’s deployment:
1. The wireless network providers must be willing to let Groove interact with their networks. These interfaces are not taken lightly and need the approval of senior executive leadership. We are addressing that by bringing technology partners to the table that can create carrier-grade connections between Groove and the carrier networks in months, not years.
2. They need to manage the product liability risk that they are taking on by deploying a lifesaving technology. This requires well-designed product liability strategies with tangible costs that must be justified.
3. It needs to be good business. We are showing the wireless network providers the data to prove the extraordinary customer desire for Groove. Last year’s segment with Katie Couric made this point in spades; based on web traffic in the 24 hours after the segment aired, and despite its being stated in the segment that Groove was not yet available, Katasi could have sold more than 100,000 Groove subscriptions at $8.00 per month.
We are nearly there.
The Groovement is gaining momentum by the hour, joining together mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, and friends: people who are as committed to ensuring Groove is made available in the U.S. in 2016 .
“Once Groove is available, families will remain intact…they will put this device in their car, and forget it, and never know that a call that might’ve come in the middle of the night that begins “I am so sorry…there has been an crash…” never happened.” – Katie Couric World 3.0 feature on Katasi’s Groove.
Let your carrier know that this is a technology that you want them to provide to help protect our families’ lives.
Join us. Be a part of the Groovement.