Innovation of the Week: Booster takes the traffic hassle out of gassing up | Crain's Silicon Valley

Innovation of the Week: Booster takes the traffic hassle out of gassing up

  • Booster allows users to use a mobile app to order gas and have their cars fueled up by trucks at their employers’ parking lot while they work. | Photo by Booster

    Booster allows users to use a mobile app to order gas and have their cars fueled up by trucks at their employers’ parking lot while they work. | Photo by Booster

  • Booster’s mobile app. | Photo by Booster

    Booster’s mobile app. | Photo by Booster

  • A Booster truck. | Photo by Booster

    A Booster truck. | Photo by Booster

  • Booster said its service could have a noticeable impact on city traffic. | Photo by Booster

    Booster said its service could have a noticeable impact on city traffic. | Photo by Booster

  • Booster’s corporate-focused, on-demand gas delivery service promises to mitigate Santa Clara’s traffic crisis. | Photo by Booster

    Booster’s corporate-focused, on-demand gas delivery service promises to mitigate Santa Clara’s traffic crisis. | Photo by Booster

Any resident of Santa Clara can tell you that traffic congestion in the bustling Silicon Valley community has hit a critical level. Fueled by the continuing good times for tech, the construction of the 49ers Levi’s Stadium and an extended boom in residential and business construction, the city has reached a state of “Carmageddon.”

For motorists, this situation means that even the shortest trips can turn into lengthy ordeals, particularly during the rush hours.

Enter Booster, a mobile fueling startup that is a corporate-focused, on-demand gas delivery service promising to mitigate Santa Clara’s traffic crisis. Booster allows users to use a mobile app to order gas and have their cars fueled up by trucks at their employers’ parking lot while they work. The company this month announced that the City of Santa Clara has given Booster the required approvals to operate at local companies.

The company has launched its service at high-profile employers, including chipmaker nVidia, software colossus Oracle and local online textbook rental company Chegg.

With thousands of workers at these companies Booster said its service could have a noticeable impact on city traffic.

“If you have one truck doing 100 deliveries in a day, it means that there are 100 cars at one company that don’t have to be driven to the gas station,” said Frank Mycroft, founder and CEO of Booster. “We had a third-party report that determined there are 1.5 miles of travel saved for every delivery Booster makes. Once we do 80 to 100 deliveries in a day, you can see it and feel it in the community.”

Lots of parking lots

In many ways, Booster’s service seems perfectly tailored for the conditions and challenges of a community like Santa Clara.

“Our service works best where there are lots of open parking lots—such as Santa Clara and the neighboring areas,” Mycroft noted. 

Gas on the cheap

Booster said its service is also significantly less expensive than purchasing gas from a nearby station. The company estimates its gas costs 10 to 20 cents per gallon less than local stations.

Mycroft noted that Booster’s cost advantage reflects sky-high real-estate prices in the community. Gas stations pay a steep price to operate in prime locations in Silicon Valley and they pass these costs onto motorists. With its gas delivered by truck, Booster can bypass these expenses and keep its prices low.

Expanding gas

Booster said more than a half dozen cities in the Bay Area have approved its service. The company said its working with employers across Silicon Valley and elsewhere to expand its business.

February 10, 2017 - 5:09pm