EXPERT OPINION: A Conversation with Jay Connolly

June 6, 2014

In this "Expert Opinion" interview, Jay Connolly, CEO, Lift Hero, discusses senior transportation, mobile technology, benefits of ride sharing, Lift Hero, and more.....

Jay Connolly Read the transcript

 

Jay is a San Francisco-based technologist and entrepreneur who is also a registered EMT. Most recently, he was one of the first employees at Science Exchange, an online marketplace for scientific experiments. Jay’s expertise includes server-side web development (including automated IVR phone systems, API design, and scalable infrastructure); agile project management; and the Lean Startup methodology.

Previously, Jay was a medical student at Columbia University and a published clinical research coordinator at UCSF. Jay holds a B.A. from Harvard University, where he captained the varsity Water Polo team.
 

 

Contact Information:

Jay Connolly
CEO
Lift Hero, Inc.
J@lifthero.com
office: (866) 486-2917

 

Read the interview transcript:

 

Steve Monroe

Everyone knows about Uber Services for taxis when you’re caught in the rainstorm or have other problems and you can’t hail a taxi on the street. Well, now there is something out there similar to that for the elderly. I’m here with Jay Connolly, he’s the founder of Lift Hero.

Jay, tell me about what you’re doing? I know you’ve rolled it out in the last four weeks, your service. Give me a little description about the product and service, and what you hope to accomplish.

Jay Connolly
We’re very happy to have launched and to be piloting with a Brookdale community right now, and the service is basic. We’re a platform that’s connecting seniors and their family members with qualified, trusted drivers.

That’s the basics of it.

Steve Monroe
So it’s not a taxi service that is kind of hooked in.  It’s just individuals?

Jay Connolly
Right. And this has only recently become feasible both from a regulatory perspective and the technology perspective now that everyone has a GPS device in their pockets, and you’re getting used to, as you said, ordering transportation on your Smartphone.

Steve Monroe
I was wondering how a non-taxi driver would know how to get places, but everyone has GPS, so everyone can get anywhere they want to get to. How does it work? If I’m a 90-year-old guy at home, and I don’t have a cell phone, can I still use your service?

Jay Connolly
Absolutely. That’s one of the key components of our platform is that we have that analog phone interface so that someone can just call in. Maybe the caregivers set up an account for them, and they don’t even have to worry about payment at all or they can do everything over the phone, and we connect them with the appropriate driver who’s driving the right car and able to handle their needs.

Steve Monroe
Can you pre-order a day, a week, every Wednesday at 2:00, that kind of thing?

Jay Connolly
Absolutely. And that’s one of the really exciting things for us is we’re finding that people are scheduling those recurring rides, so it’s every week indefinitely, I need to get to this doctor’s appointment or go on this shopping trip. That’s another feature, it’s not just door-to-door, it’s door-through-door.

Steve Monroe
Let’s talk about the door-through-door concept.

Jay Connolly
It’s actually going and helping the person from their apartment and then the companionship aspect. We try to make sure it’s a good match on a personal level as well between the passenger and the senior. They’re available to help with the shopping, to carry bags, to sit with the person at a medical appointment.

Steve Monroe
I was going to ask you about that because I can imagine that someone living alone or even someone if they’re at a retirement community, they may like Bob, and they may want Bob every time. So it becomes not just a driving service, it’s a social experience. Are you kind of consciously trying to build that into it?

Jay Connolly
Absolutely. I think you talk to anyone in this space, and it becomes clear that social isolation is the number one issue that seniors are facing, and a lack of transportation is a huge component of why that’s true. We think our drivers can provide some of that. As we get to know the person, Bob’s not available, but someone with a similar profile can step in and already make the person feel comfortable.

Steve Monroe
You’ve rolled out a month ago, where are you currently operating?

Jay Connolly
We’re just in the Bay area for the moment. We’re totally bootstrapped, we haven’t raised any money and already we have some revenue coming in.

Steve Monroe
When you do a more statewide California rollout, which I assume is next, and then you go regional and national, what are the restrictions you’re going to face with … like in New York City, the Taxi & Limousine Commission would probably try to shut you down.

Jay Connolly
Totally.  First of all, I mean local governments are way more supportive of our service. It’s accessible and doing something that they are frankly failing at. Secondly, we’re fortunate enough to be following on the coattails of some other pioneers in the ride sharing space who have blazed those trails for us, and we share one of the lawyers with one of those companies.

Definitely, it’s new ground in a lot of states with the regulations.

Steve Monroe
I would think that might be the only thing that would kind of inhibit growth anywhere that there’s a strong taxi lobby.

Jay Connolly
Yes

Steve Monroe
But, I think having the same person come and ordering ahead of time on a consistent basis, on a social part, might help it take off.

Are you looking for capital now?

Jay Connolly
Yes, we’re looking—we’ve been iterating on our service, and we really think we’re ready to scale. We’ve been testing a few different distribution channels, and we have some more tests to run to see, which is the most effective, how far the money will get us. But, yeah, we are looking to help millions of Americans with this.

Steve Monroe
Great. Well, good luck and keep us posted on how the rollout goes.

Jay Connolly
Absolutely.

Thanks for having me.

Steve Monroe
All right then. Good luck with the capital.
 

 


 

 

 

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