Notre Dame students create mapping feature to save fuel, reduce emissions

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The idea started in Texas and worked its way to South Bend. Now, a group of college students are working to reach a worldwide audience with its new mapping feature, Routora.

The vision began with Tom Vazhekatt, co-founder and CEO of Routora, during an internship with a nonprofit.

Through his experience with the group, working to create a better routing system for its team of fleet drivers, Vazhekatt realized there's a personal need for technology that makes car trips simpler and more energy efficient.  

While it began as a useful tool for delivery drivers and small business owners, Routora's founders hope to market the product to the average driver.

"Whether you're a college student or a busy parent having to run multiple errands, we also want to be able to help people like that, you're average Joe, to be able to save time on the road as well as reduce their emissions," said Brian George, a co-founder of Routora and a student at Notre Dame.

The mapping feature gives users an optimized route that reduces time on the road, money spent on gas and less carbon emissions.

The group has already found marketing success with younger audiences through popular apps like TikTok and Reddit.

Another helping hand? The University of Notre Dame's IDEA Center.

According to co-founder and Notre Dame student Luke Blazek, mentorship through the IDEA Center helped the group get Routora off the ground.

"Notre Dame has definitely been just some good, good foundational support as we've been, kind of a fledgling start-up with a beta product but even so, we've gained amazing traction and organic traction which is important," he said.

The IDEA Center acts as a nurturing ground for innovative ideas coming from Notre Dame students, faculty and staff, and helps propel startup ideas from inception to commercial application, according to its website.

"We hope to utilize the IDEA Center as some good structure to get us off the ground and then, hopefully spread throughout the South Bend and Northern Indiana community then we'll be able to continue our reach through social media and other platforms," said Blazek.

The Routora team is currently in round two of the center's McCloskey New Venture Competition.

The team has spent months planning, developing and pitching Routora's mission to judges in hopes the product can be propelled into commercial success.

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