Reducing the Burden on Parents: A Shuttle Service for Children's Extracurricular Activities
A New Service for Dual-Income Households
Toyoda serves as the CEO for hab Inc., a company that offers a new kind of solution for dual-income households—a carpool-style shuttle that takes children to extracurricular activities that are within a designated area.
The service automatically establishes an optimal schedule and route for the shuttle based on the times at which and locations where the children need to board and disembark. The schedule/route is then communicated to parents and drivers through the hab app. Parents can check the real-time location of the shuttle and receive notifications when their child gets on board and disembarks through the official hab LINE account.
Toyoda worked at several major companies before joining Tokyu Corporation, the parent company of Tokyu Railways Co., Ltd., in 2020. While there, he worked as part of the MaaS (systems that make it more efficient and convenient for users to access multiple mobility services) team. It was when he was working on the development of an app for a new mobility service that he came upon the issue that would motivate him to start his own company.
"We had an opportunity to hold a hearing with users of the Tokyu line, where we found that families with young children were struggling to get their kids to and from their extracurricular activities."
While some extracurricular activities do offer shuttle buses, most require parents to take their children to and from the location of the activity. This often results in a significant burden on the parents, who at times have to adjust their work schedules around these activities. These concerns reminded Toyoda of experiences he had had during his own upbringing. He had noticed, even as a young child, how his parents—who both worked—had struggled to balance their work schedules with his extracurricular activities.
"I felt that I'd come across this issue at the perfect time in my career, and decided to spend my life trying to solve it." And so it was that Toyoda, who at the time still worked at Tokyu, set up hab Inc., a carpool-style shuttle-sharing service that would take children to their extracurricular activities, as a second job.
Toyoda went on to win the Grand Prize at TOKYO STARTUP GATEWAY 2022, an entrepreneurship contest hosted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Verification testing for the service was held in March 2023, after which many people voiced their anticipation for the implementation of the service. Currently, the company is planning for the full-scale launch of the service, which is set for January 2024.
Tokyo Offers a Foundation of Support for Entrepreneurs
Toyoda was able to move so smoothly into commercialization because of the peers and mentors he had met at TOKYO STARTUP GATEWAY. "My peers and I are always consulting with one another, telling each other about our progress. The friendly competition we have going on has kept us passionate about our companies, and has been inspiring for us all. Our mentors have also helped lead the way when it comes to our start-ups, for instance by becoming shareholders, or giving us advice on our businesses."
Toyoda has this to say about how to make a successful business. "Talk to as many users as possible, and grab onto an issue—a small one. After that, just think about ways to solve it. Keep thinking about it, keep taking that step forward." It seems that the journey of this young entrepreneur, and his Tokyo-born dream, has only just begun.
*Japanese language site
TOKYO STARTUP GATEWAYhttps://tokyo-startup.jp/english
Photos by Ito Satomi
Translation by Amitt