For many of us, having a car is just part of the norm. We get in, go from A to B and back to A, and don’t think twice about it. For nearly half of all college students who don’t own a car, getting to B adds complexity. Going to the grocery story, grabbing a bite to eat, or heading home for the holidays, is just not feasible. For college students Nashir Janmohamed (Santa Monica College), Yao Yin (Harvard University), and Taha Afzal (Augustana University), this problem was all too real, so they decided to do something about it and created Ridesio.
Ridesio, a bulletin board iOS app for college campuses, lets users request or post upcoming rides. Heading to the grocery store? Post your ride and let someone request to join you in exchange for some gas money. The team’s app provides a communal, sustainable way of ridesharing for college students.
“Really good job. There are lots of ride-sharing apps out there right now, but what got us and what really pulled us into second place here is this virtual hitch-a-ride app so to speak. [The app] is really targeting a specific market which is college students. Also, the technicality and technical implementation was great. Ease of use of the app, integration with the different ride maps, the distance, was really seamless and easy to do. What I personally really like is integrating it in Venmo so that you can share the money part of it and easily pay for your rideshare. Congratulations, Ridesio. Good Job!”
Questions are in bold, while team Ridesio’s answers are italicized
Tell us about the motivation behind Ridesio — what problem were you aiming to solve and what triggered the idea?
We’ve personally experienced college without a vehicle. Yao doesn’t drive and has previously used Zimride, a web-based platform with a similar strategy. Since Zimride is only a web-based platform, we figured a mobile-based application that markets specifically to college students would be beneficial. It can be really hard to schedule things without a car and Covid hasn’t made things easier.
What steps did you take to define the scope of the application, and how did you prevent scope creep?
We were limited on time and that played a role in how we scoped things out. We focused on the MVP and ran 1-week sprints as part of CodePath. Anything that we knew we wanted to implement that wasn’t part of MVP we labeled as “After Demo Day.”
Who was your mentor and what impact did they make on your success?
Our mentor was Suraj Chetnani (Senior Software Engineer at Walmart Global Tech). Suraj was really helpful. We had weekly meetings with him where we would get guidance, share our progress, and learn best practices. He not only helped with Ridesio, but also offered some very practical and helpful career advice.
Specifically, Suraj taught us that when you are starting small, it’s important to stay focused. We were spending some time at the beginning of the project worrying about the cost of the backend and legal issues involved with the app, and he told us that if we got to the point where we were worried about these things, it meant we were in a good place! It was an interesting piece of advice because it showed how it’s easy to get caught up and spend so much time upfront planning and thinking. If you don’t start actually making something, it’s a problem you’re never going to have to worry about!
So, tell me about the roadblock(s) and how you overcame them?
Any setback that we had we were able to handle pretty quickly. The key for us was open communication. The learning curves or the new technologies were the biggest hurdles.
What new technologies and/or tools did you have to pick up and learn in order to accomplish your goals?
Everything was new to us — It was really great learning these new tools and technologies together. We were able to help each other along the way. We learned Swift, Xcode, Alamofireimage, Parse, Data Schemes, Models, Github, Apple’s Map Kit, and Figma.
Why did you choose to take the iOS course vs. the Android course?
Taha – I remember seeing my first iPod Nano back in 2010. I’ve been an Apple fan ever since.
Nashir – I’m an Apple fanboy.
Yao – It seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about iOS development.
How was the team set up and how did the team dynamic play a role in the success of the application?
We actually met in the breakout rooms and asked CodePath if we could be on a team. The team dynamic was great and the communication was really great. We assigned tasks and broke things up together.
Looking back on the semester, about how many hours per week did you spend learning and developing your application?
We spent 5-10 hours a week, but towards the end it was way more. For Yao, the last week was crazy between school work and her internship.
Where do you see the application going? Can we get some insights on Phase 2? Phase 3?
We definitely want to put it up on the app store. We’ll work on it over the Spring and hope to release it in the Summer.
How did you get involved with CodePath? How did you hear about it?
Taha- One of my friends was signing up for a CodePath course and told me about it so I signed up with him.
Yao- I saw something about CodePath in one of the campus club emails.
Nashir- I was doing some interview prep with a friend, and he told me about CodePath and the iOS course.
Tell us about your experience with CodePath, the course, instructors, and the community.
Yao – The teaching staff is amazing! You can literally ask anything on the Slack channels and get answers right away. The teaching staff will jump on Zoom meetings to help you out. I think the way the course is structured makes sense. You learn a lot. It’s very possible to balance the course with other things like school.
Nashir – CodePath is everything I wished normal school would be. The course provided great instruction with enough ambiguity to make you work hard for yourself.
Taha – The course portal has a lot of external links and resources that were really helpful. The staff is amazing. I was doing a hackathon that was not related to CodePath. I scheduled a one-on-one with CodePath’s Chief Learning Officer Tim Lee, and he was more than willing to help and give guidance.
We are living through some unprecedented times. Covid-19 has impacted all of us individually and collectively—What kind of challenges, if any, did Covid-19 create during your course?
The energy in the morning lectures helped you forget about what was going on and the curiosity kept us going.
Nashir – I don’t think I would have taken the course had it not been for Covid-19. I had planned to matriculate to UCF in the fall of 2020 but due to Covid I decided I would prefer to take a gap year and intern in the meantime. If I had been in my first semester at UCF, I imagine I would have been a bit overwhelmed starting classes, getting to know people, and finding my way as a first-semester transfer student, and probably wouldn’t have taken on the extra obligation of CodePath. That said, I had a lot of extra time due to not being enrolled in classes, and so I took the opportunity to enroll in this class! It was such a rewarding experience, and I’m grateful that CodePath offered remote instruction for the iOS course.
You’ve learned some valuable lessons and added new tools to your resume—What’s next? Where do you see yourself working or what is your dream job?
Nashir – I have a lot of interests. I enjoy robotics and space applications. Perhaps entrepreneurship.
Taha – There are a lot of things that I am interested in. I would like to focus on something that makes an impact: climate change, healthcare.
Yao – I love tech. I like doing research and would love to get a PhD.
What is one piece of advice that you would give yourselves if you could go back to day one of your semester?
Don’t start the projects for the class on Friday night! We procrastinated towards the first part of the course, but quickly realized that starting earlier was in our best interest. Dealing with and diagnosing bugs can be tricky and starting sooner allows you to work through them and/or get help if needed.
Finally, what advice would you give the reader if they are interested in CodePath?
Do It! If you are passionate about learning, you should definitely do it because you learn so much. You are making yourself a better version of you.
If you are interested in learning more about Ridesio, feel free to contact the students.
Nashir, Yao, and Taha, completed CodePath’s iOS mobile development class. To learn more about CodePath’s iOS course and other curriculums, please visit https://codepath.org/classes.