Excursion is a public transportation assistance application for Boston commuters with realtime tracking information for MBTA buses and subway lines.
Excursion was the first product created by a company founded by myself and Brian Leonard while I was a student at Boston University studying advertising and communication design. Inspired by the sub-zero weather in the north-east United States during much of the year, I was simply sick of waiting in the cold wondering when the above-ground subway, known as the T, would arrive. Boston, at the time, had no existing system for announcing when the trains would come, other than looking up the tracks and guessing. After a year and a half of talks with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority along with the state government of Massachusetts, I convinced the relevant authories that the GPS data on the Boston trains and busses were public data.
While working on getting access to the data, I began to focus on how the revenue stream for this product might work. Ultimately, knowning when your train or bus arrives isn't hugely useful information. The rider is still stuck outside in the snow, now they simply know how long they will be standing there. What the rider really needs is somewhere warm to sit while their train or bus gets to them.
Excursion was designed to be as simple as possible for users to create a single 'excursion', or single line ride, that would pick them up from the closest location, and get them to their next line change.
This lead to the breakthrough that began my career in advertising. We pivoted the company and investigated the idea of partnering with another local company, RedPlum, to send both location and time specific coupons to the rider. Specifically targeting the immense number of Starbucks and Dunkin Doughnuts in Boston, a rider would be served specific offers depending on their distance to the store as well as how long they had to wait.
Ultimately our initial success with gaining access to previously off-limit data lead to our failure. As this data was released to the public as open source, we faced competition from well-funded California companies eager to replicate their similar platforms built for the San Francisco BART system in a new market. After two years in operation, we closed our doors for good. However, this lead me to my career in Digital Advertising. Still to this day the lessons learned from Excursion resonate through all of my campaigns: 'The best advertisements are platforms that are equally embraced by the companies and clients getting promoted, the creatives building the campaign, and most importantly, the consumer who gets a net positive impact in their lives.'