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Students now have the option of taking an online driver’s education course through an iOS app from Austin-based startup Aceable.
Aceable is focused on making required state and federal training courses available through your iPhone or iPad. These courses include classes for defensive driving, driver’s ed, employee training, corporate compliance, etc., that people are allowed to take online.
But if you’ve ever had to take an online defensive driving course, you’ll know how mind-numbingly boring and tedious it can be to complete. Part of that is because most of these courses aren’t available through mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
Its first course, which rolled out today via Aceable’s iPhone app, is a driver’s ed class that’s officially approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety. And believe it or not, Aceable is currently the only company in the country that offers an approved driver’s ed class on an iPhone app. Only 13 states allow driving education courses to be taken online, and most of them are unclear on rules for courses on mobile, Aceable CEO and founder Blake Garrett said in an interview with VentureBeat.
“Some of the major providers offer courses that are optimized for the mobile web, but none of them have state-approved mobile apps that let you complete the course just from your iPhone,” Garrett said.
“There’s a ton of opportunity for mobile courses that no one is taking advantage of.”
For instance, industry leader DriversEd.com does have a few mobile applications that offer training courses. However, these are merely practice materials. To actually complete a driving course that fulfills the state’s requirements, you either have to login to the website or find an available location that administers driving tests.
The experience of taking a course through Aceable’s app is a step up from most boring online driving classes, too.
The Texas driver’s ed course, for example, mixes required reading materials and videos with different question types and awards points for success. There are 12 levels within the course, and each level has a number of chapters. Aceable’s course also doesn’t enforce a time limit (making you wait before advancing) when moving through the material, which some online course makers do to ensure a minimum number of hours is reached per state regulations. That means you’re free to complete it at your own pace, regardless of location.
(Of course, students still need to log a minimum number of hours behind the wheel with a certified instructor and actually pass a driving test at the DMV before obtaining a license.)
“People don’t want to commit to spending hours in front of a desktop, but they might spend 15 minutes at a time on a smartphone throughout the day,” Garrett said.
Aceable is also trying to undercut the big guys on price, too. Its Texas driver’s ed course costs $150, or about half what it cost for a real course taught in a classroom ($300-$400), Garrett told us.
The startup’s biggest obstacle for growth will definitely be in getting state governments to green-light Aceable’s mobile courses. Garrett explained that this shouldn’t be a problem so long as the courses meet all the state requirements. It’s just a matter of submitting those courses for approval, he said.
Founded in 2013, Aceable has raised $450,000 in funding from Capital Factory, Floodgate, Silverton Partners, and others. The startup currently has seven full-time employees and plans to release other state-approved mobile courses for things like defensive driving in the near future.