At 9am last Saturday morning (Sept. 3rd), CEO Jeffrey Garland's mom came to pick me up from Vanderbilt's campus to bring me to Drover HQ in Cookeville, TN. On Saturday, I attended a key Drover beta test as we prepare to launch the app on the Play Store and App Store in the next few months.
The drive to Cookeville was great; Jeff's mom is such a nice lady, and we had a great conversation the whole drive. That conversation, of course, included a thorough discussion of her mint-condition 2006 Ford Explorer's interior and exterior... what kind of car enthusiasts would we be otherwise? We arrived at the Cookeville office around 10:30am.
Now, to give a brief timeline of Drover's history, Jeff met and assembled the app development team in early May -- after I went back home to Florida for the summer. Over the course of the summer, I spoke with most (if not all) of the app dev team several times via phone calls, Skype, Slack messaging, texting, etc, however before Saturday, I had not met any Drover team member (besides Jeff and myself I guess lol) in person. Moreover, I had not seen our swanky office that Jeff, Dylan Hall, Hunter Goodson, and Scarlett just set up within the last month or so. With that background info, it is clear how excited I was when I hopped out of the cushy leather seat of Ms. Garland's Explorer.
Drover HQ is probably Cookeville's most modern office space, as Drover is most likely one of, if not the, most up-and-coming technology company in Cookeville. The office is a cozy two-story space, with a bathroom, Jeff's office, and a reception/sofa area on the main level; the second floor has the break-room with a kitchenette and a TV equipped with PS4, a full-size conference table, and the office of Dylan Hall and Hunter Goodson -- where Hunter sports an impressive three monitor display.
When I arrived, I was warmly met by Jeff, whom I had not seen since early May. He gave me the tour of the office, and when I made it to the top, I met Hunter and Dylan for the first time in person. I knew they were nice guys from interacting with them on the phone, but man, after meeting in person, they are just such nice guys; and incredibly dedicated workers too. At first, they were admittedly quiet with me, but I learned they were on the backend of a 30-hour stint of work on the Drover Android app, trying to get it ready for the beta test.
The Beta Test
As early as several weeks ago, the app was capable of pairing riders and drivers. However, the hiccup was that the dev team was running it off of a third-party digital server (our physical server is in NJ somewhere [I don't even know where]). Running the digital server through a third-party company became problematic for security, bandwidth, and scalability. To solve this, Dylan Hall bravely took on the task of writing our own server from scratch. He has succeeded in doing so.
The stage of development we are at now is trying to link both the Android and iOS app to Dylan's new home-grown server, as well as integrating hailing from the Android and iOS platforms together... meaning, if someone hails a ride on the Android version, a driver using iOS needs to be able to get that request and accept it. We are currently in the process of achieving this, as well as cleaning up other bugs.
For the Beta test, Dylan, Hunter, myself, and a few loyal future drivers pulled up the Android version and experimented with hailing rides and accepting rides from each other on our phones. This was really amusing actually, because we were all just sitting in the same room shouting, "Dylan! You're my driver!" or something like "Patrizio, I'm picking you up now.", or like "Hunter, drop me off already!"... If you cannot see the humor in this, just picture a bunch of 20-something guys sitting in a living room on their phones pretending to hail each other from their phones, all the while discovering bugs and sending crash reports.
After The Beta Test
After the Beta Test, we all went to have pizza and get to know each other better. After all was through, Ms. Garland drove me back to Vandy. It was a phenomenal day, and it was just incredibly cool to 1) meet everyone and see Jeff again and 2) to actually download the current (albeit glitchy and unfinished) Drover app onto my phone and experiencing it functioning properly to hail/accept rides!
In the coming weeks/months, the Dev team's main priorities are: 1) improving stability, 2) integrating iOS and Android drivers/riders, 3) confirming smooth transition to Dylan's server, 4) enhanced graphics. With that said, we are well underway. I am extremely impressed with their progress, especially considering they only started working together as a team circa May 2016... that was only 4 months ago!
I feel so blessed to be a part of Drover, and cannot wait until the coming months for even more exciting updates!
Patrizio Murdocca is Chief Web Developer at Drover Rideshare, a student at Vanderbilt University, and President of Interfaced Ministries.