ROSS WINS: MBAs Take Home First Prize in National ‘Future of Mobility’ Competition

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Millennials love their Ubers and Lyfts, so much so that they aren’t buying cars at the same rate that they used to. So what is an auto manufacturer supposed to do amid this changing market demand?

That was the central question at the Ford-sponsored Future of Mobility Pitch Competition, held at Michigan Ross earlier this fall. There were more than 30 teams from business schools around the country competing, and a group of Ross Weekend MBAs had the winning pitch: ride-sharing for parents.

The MBAs discovered that millennials in urban areas are pushed to purchase vehicles because ride-sharing isn’t exactly compatible with parenthood: just imagine the frustration of installing a car seat...each time you change your ride. But even so, ride-sharing as a demand isn’t decreasing anytime soon — that is why Ford recently partnered with Lyft.

So the Ross team of first-year MBAs, consisting of Arun Nayak, Nathan Mainka, Saad Hasan, and Rob Zaebst, came up with a novel idea: Carriage. The ride-sharing platform for parents would feature an app to summon a vehicle and select an appropriate seat configuration for their child. The built-in customizable car seats make the headache of installation a thing of the past, since the car would arrive prepared to seat the child.

Even better, the car seat would feature a self-sanitizing mechanism as well as a built-in infotainment system for the child’s enjoyment. (Can you hear the cheers of moms, dads, and caretakers everywhere?)

Ford could invest in this idea immediately, while also keeping an eye toward the impending technology upgrades coming to the industry. “Carriage can eventually be developed into a fully autonomous vehicle for ride sharing purposes with artificial intelligence and multi-modal connected transportation,” Nayak said, “thus enabling Ford to be a leader in mobility services and related technologies in the future.”