When three students at the University of Alabama developed their Get Me Home! iPhone application, which enables users to call a taxi in one step, they felt it was the socially responsible thing to do.
After all, they'd invented another app that tells users where they could get the highest percentage of alcohol in a drink per dollar.
Las Vegas is one of 115 cities for which the students built Get Me Home! The app can be downloaded for free at the Apple iPhone App Store.
For most cities, the app lists seven cab companies. Touch the company name on the phone, and it automatically calls to arrange a pick-up.
For the Las Vegas version, the app lists A-Cab, Ace Cab, Desert Cab, Lucky Cab, Union Cab, Western Cab and Yellow Cab.
"We were going to the national championship (football) game in New Orleans and we thought, 'Wow, we ought to do this,'" said Ben Gordon, a senior art major who split screen design and programming chores with Nick Neveu, who is pursuing a master's degree in electrical engineering.
The third member of the team, which incorporated as Subvert LLC, is Matt Staples, who is seeking a master's degree in accounting and set up the business, became the bookkeeper and has done research for the apps.
The entrepreneurs focused most of their attention on Southern cities where their friends spend most of their time, but they quickly branched out to other popular destinations when they discovered how easy it was to build the app.
The Get Me Home! app debuted in mid-January.
"It took us about four days to put it together," Gordon said. "Mostly, it was doing the research and making sure all the phone numbers were right."
The app has a component that ties to Google Maps, enabling users to pinpoint their location to direct the cab to an address.
In Las Vegas, cab companies are prohibited from being hailed on the street, and customers must either be picked up at a street address or from a designated cab stand.
Gordon and Neveu found they had the creativity to build useful apps, which led them to develop Red Cup, an app listing where users can find the highest alcohol content per drink for the money in cities around Huntsville, Ala., the home of the University of Alabama.
They said they were considering building a similar app for the Las Vegas area but thought they could be overwhelmed by the large number of places that serve drinks.
"After putting together Red Cup, we thought it would be, you know, socially responsible to have something that would get you home," Gordon said. "I knew we were right when one of our friends needed to get a taxi ride home when she was in New Orleans. I think every parent would want their children to have this app on their phones."
Because the app is free, Gordon and his colleagues aren't expecting to get rich overnight with it, although they do get a small slice of advertising revenue for every app downloaded.
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