When we’re stuck in traffic with the needle hovering just above E, we often play that awful game: “Can I wait long enough to get to the cheaper gas station across town?” I can tell you that this game has left me stranded many a-times on Sand Hill Rd. (damn you cheap Willow Rd. Gas Station!). Lionel Gueganton saw this problem a couple years back, and decided to do something about it, and so he built Mobicarbu in the Summer of 2008.
“When the iPhone first came out, I was working at [an leading automative industry company], and I could see all the problems with the car interfaces, and I realized the building an app on the iPhone would be a perfect solution,” says Gueganton. From there he went on to learn ObjectiveC, UX/UI, as well as marketing and he built his V1. When the first version came out, Gueganton was geting all his data by scraping government sites which posted up-to-date gas price information: the French Government’s open data projecthadn’t begun yet, and so he had to find it, grab it, and store it all himself.
Adapting, Reiterating, and Staying on Top
Within days of coming out, mobicarbu was on the top of the AppStore’s “utilities” section (yeah, that’s right, it’s below ‘games’ and ‘social networks’ – just scroll down a bit). Constantly working to keep servers online while maintaining a full-time job as a developer, Gueganton was hit with a big problem when the government started making people pay to have access to up-to-date gas prices. In order to subsidize the licensing fees, Gueganton added ads to mobicarbu, and came out with mobicarbu+, a €5,99 paying version that was ad-free.
In the past three years, MobiCarbu has managed to remain on the top of the appstore with a pretty consistent track record. With more than 6000 daily users of the premium version, Mobicarbu has been featured in prominent automobile magazines like Autoplus, as well as in major newspapers like the Guardian. Gueganton has also built other apps, like mobigarage, which helps find nearby parking garages, as well as mobiradar, to keep track of radar stops on French freeways. He currently works full-time as an iOS developer at Alcatel-Lucent, but continues to put out regular updates as requested by his loyal users.