How many times has this happened to you? You are either stuck in traffic, in a queue, or even an alien city which you have never ever visited, a long road trip – most of the times, it’s happy go lucky except when it reaches the end of your bladder control limit and the only thought in your mind is – I GOTTA GO to the loo!
Kunal Sheth, founder and creator of GottaGo is the answer to all of your nature’s calls. His free app lets users find public restrooms in malls, hotels, restaurants, railway stations and even museums! The list is displayed along with a map with the distance from user’s locations directions of how to get to the restroom.
With over 18 years of technology experience specially in digital products, this venture is not a first for Kunal. He has previously founded 2 companies – Software Wizards and WebIT way back in 1997 and has also served as the head of the R&D facility at Times Internet.
Radhika Sharma talks to him about how he chanced upon this idea and more. Read on!
Q: What made you want to build an app like Gotta Go? Just the need to relieve yourself quickly or was there a much more detailed, perhaps a medical reason even, behind this?
Kunal Sheth: A couple of personal incidents with my wife and niece & the idea was born. We recognized the importance of finding a clean restroom when traveling within the city for shopping or simply hanging out with friends and family. With increasing commutes, traffic and lack of clean public infrastructure, travelers often find themselves searching for a restroom nearby. We started a website that listed information of restrooms, area-wise on a website called p911.in back in 2010. With the smartphone medium, the experience got better with detecting the location of the user using GPS and then directing the user through navigation that they are already familiar with.
Q: Explain your curation process to us. How do you go about finding all of these restrooms and listing them?
KS: We first sat and figured out all the places one can and would go to find a restroom. The answer was Malls, Hospitals, Hotels, Restaurants, Railway Stations and Museums. We got some of the data form the web, which was later verified by a team of city experts. They also added places which were not in the list.
Q: What’s the selection criteria of a restroom?
KS: This is a very serious question I would say 🙂 We started with adding every possible restroom available. But our focus group pointed out that, that won’t really work. A pregnant lady said that she would like to see the places that you would allow your wife to go. So we culled our database, set a strict rule in place on the types of restrooms which will make the cut. That did decrease the number of restrooms by a third, but got better feedback from the users.
Q: In your opinion- how is this helping people?
KS: No more does one have to really hold on till they reach a destination! The app is helping people find places which are near them, some as close as a minute away which they would have not realized otherwise!
Q: What more can we see from GottaGo? What’s in the future?
KS: Tons. This month we have a couple of updates! We are finally active on Facebook and Twitter, we are launching our iOS version of the app, two more cities are going live and we are launching GottaGo in another country!
Gotta Go is currently available for download on the Android Play Store.