Grand's story blew up across the internet after 23-year-old programmer Patrick McConlogue, who passed Grand each day on his way to work, offered to make him a deal: He'd give Grand $100 and be on his way, or he'd teach Grand to code. Grand chose the latter, and three months later, "Trees for Cars" is ready for purchase. Here's the gist, courtesy of a press release:
Among similar products, Trees for Cars uniquely provides information on how much CO2 the user is saving with each ride which further encourages environmental awareness and creates a healthy competition amongst users to save the most CO2. Grand has already started work on Trees for Cars 2 with additional features and functionality but believes Trees for Cars is the ideal foundation for his future endeavors to take cars off the road.
In addition to decreasing greenhouse gases, Grand suggests the app is a tool for community building by allowing people to connect with other riders and drivers as Trees for Cars users. “It’s a great way to build relationships, strengthen communities, help each-other financially and energy wise, all under the umbrella of saving the environment” said Grand with a smile.
According to McConlogue, Grand was responsible for nearly every aspect of the app, from the concept and execution down to the name. Despite his obviously good intentions, though, McConlogue nevertheless found himself the target of significant internet backlash, with many deriding his efforts with Grand as "tone deaf" and "ham-fisted"—criticisms which McConlogue opts to ignore.
"I still don't understand [the controversy]. It's just two guys working on and learning to code," he said. And anyway, at least controversy inspires people to consider their own roles in combating poverty.
"I would much rather have controversy and a ton of negative opinions if people ask the question of themselves," he said. "The more important part is, what would you do personally? And what is the right thing do to? It's a great way to not ignore the situation."
The release of the app may signal the fulfillment of McConlogue's initial promise to Grand, but, he said, this is hardly the end.
"The friendship does not end," he said, adding that Grand is already at work on Trees for Cars II.
"This is not a charity event, it's a business," McConlogue said. "He wants to turn Trees for Cars into a functioning carpooling service. He has a great vision, and he's not done. This isn't the last thing for him."