Back in 2007, Bob and Anne Carr had an idea for a driving service that would be coordinated only by text message, according to an article on the couple in Bloomberg Businessweek. They even filed for a patent.
The idea may sound familiar — and the Carrs had it more than a year before Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp launched Uber in March of 2009.
Bob Carr, now 67, jokes it's a good thing for Uber that the patent didn't work out.
Not that the Carrs are really claiming to have invented Uber before Uber – their patent application was for a service that utilized volunteer drivers. They wanted to use the method to coordinate rides for the elderly and people with disabilities, they tell Bloomberg Businessweek. "Micro-transportation versus mass transportation," says Bob.
And in fact, it was the advent of Uber that ultimately brought the Carrs' dream to fruition.
Early on, volunteers' limited availability stymied the Carrs' original plan. But when Anne learned about Uber in 2014 and told her husband, Bob "jumped on it like you've never seen," Anne tells CNBC. He even signed up to be an Uber driver himself.
That year, the Carrs revived their project and founded nonprofit, Common Courtesy, Inc. They used Uber to book rides to things like doctor appointments or for trips to the grocery store for the elderly, many of whom didn't have smart phones.
"I had five different mobile phones with five different Uber accounts," Carr tells Bloomberg Businessweek.