The idea came to Morgen Glessing when he heard a mother voice concern for her children. She didn’t know how to ensure her children would remain safe on the road surrounded by distracted drivers.
Glessing, a BYU entrepreneurship student, thought texting and driving was a social problem that had no real solution, but then realized flipping the situation and rewarding young people for good driving could change their behavior.
This realization prompted Glessing to persuade Devin Horning, Ryan Jensen and Jared Packard — all entrepreneurship majors at BYU — to work together to create Kudoz, an app similar to Pocket Points that incentivizes phone users to keep their phones locked while driving.
The app functions by disabling distracting features like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and messaging as users drive, while still allowing GPS and music apps to function, according to Horning. Horning said as the phone remains locked while driving, Kudoz rewards points that can be exchanged for coupons or discounts at partnering companies.
“The prospect of a longer life isn’t incentivized enough for most people not to drive distracted, so you have to change the model to actually stop them from doing it and explore other options,” Horning said.
Packard said 11 teenagers die each day as a result of distracted driving. He said these facts and experiences of people the team knows have motivated them to promote real social change.
Starting any business to change a social problem takes a great amount of effort and time, according to Glessing.
“You have to care about what you are doing,” Glessing said. “We are taking risks and allocating a lot of our time. Make sure (the cause) is something you will be personally satisfied with, whether you make a dollar or not.”
Creating this app has required a lot of research and feedback, Packard said. Glessing said the team performed a week-long beta test at Timpview and Provo High Schools to see if the app would have the desired effect.
The test concluded with 60 students who drove a total of 1,200 safe miles in one week, and according to their mileage, they received coupons for free tacos and ice cream. Glessing said the team was pleased when students actually redeemed the coupons.
The Kudoz team said business can create social change when team members perform proper preliminary research.
“The difference between an entrepreneur and a dreamer, is an entrepreneur sees a pain or a problem and they go for it,” Packard said. “Obviously we validate it and make sure that it is feasible and viable, but we move forward. We are not afraid.”
The team hopes to launch the app in the next two or three weeks and sees it becoming popular throughout the country after testing it out in Provo, Horning said.
Packard said he thinks Kudoz could become the currency for doing good in the world — a business that rewards its customers for making positive change.