New car-sharing app to launch at Long Beach State in September

When life doesn’t give you Papa John’s Pizza, you make an app.

At least that’s what brothers Matthew and Michael Vega-Sanz did after having to settle for Domino’s Pizza, because there was no nearby Papa John’s Pizza that would deliver to their Babson College dorms. The brothers did not want to pay a $30 Uber to pick up an $8 pizza.

The duo noticed a packed parking lot outside of their dorm as they went to receive the pizzas from the delivery man.

Why didn’t we just use one of those [cars] to drive ourselves?” The brothers told the Boston student newspaper, The Daily Free Press.

Thus, the idea for car-sharing smartphone app Lula was born. The new app allows students to rent their vehicles out to others and will have a September launch in Long Beach. The Vega-Sanz brothers plan to market it to students on campus.

According to Matthew Vega-Sanz, all rentals come with insurance in case there’s a crash and renters must undergo background checks before renting the car to make sure they don’t have any DUIs, invalid licenses or points, which are assigned by tickets and accidents.

“We want to make sure everybody who we’re covering feels comfortable giving access to [a stranger] for [their] vehicles,” he said.

The Vega-Sanz brothers formulated the idea in March 2016 and started developing a business plan for the app between studying at Babson College and their summer jobs.

Lula was originally planned to be usable by anyone, according to the former Babson students. However, in the summer of 2016, Vega-Sanz found out that the app would better serve college students.

Some of Lula’s pilot users at Babson College thought the Boston school was the perfect location to start-up the app. Roberto Salinas, a senior student at Babson College, enjoys the app’s practicality when going around the city to buy pet food.

“Lula is an all honesty a magnificent tool [e]specially with the raising prices of transportation in the Boston area,” Salinas said in an email. “Considering Babson is an isolated college, it was the perfect location for the Lula launch, and the results are undeniable that Lula has been a success on our campus.”

The brothers’ marketing strategy for the app relies on word-of-mouth and introducing campus members to Lula. The Long Beach chapter of fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi convinced the men to promote their app in Long Beach.

“We started running some Instagram and Facebook ads and started getting downloads in that area,” Matthew Vega-Sanz said. “That’s really how we decided [on] launching at Long Beach State sometime this semester.”

Students can expect to rent cars through Lula as early as Sept. 1, but the Babson two plan to advertise on campus for rentals mid-September. Price rates start at $5 per hour and $25 per day.

Some Long Beach State students said they like how the idea is similar to modern transportation apps such as Uber and Lyft.

“I think it sounds very similar to Uber, and I’m sure people [use] Uber all the time [to make] money,” said junior liberal studies major Priscilla Cordero. “If I had a newer car, I think I would use [Lula].

Freshman film major Bobby Kelley says he’s not sure about trusting another person with his car.

“It seems a little risky for me,” Kelley said. “I’m dorming right now, and I wouldn’t necessarily want someone to be taking my car somewhere around even if I’m making money because I feel like it’s somewhat of a risk.”

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