Unlikely entrepreneurs launch mobile app

A wide range of entrepreneurs enter the startup world from engineering, economics, and computer science, but not every mobile app or startup idea comes from students with a high tech background. Although he may not have surfaced from the tech community, health studies student Marc Lafleur knows that being at UW was a factor in developing the mobile app he and his colleagues are launching next month.

“There are so many good app ideas out there, but they’re executed by people who are proficient in tech stuff, but not so much in what the users want. So we decided that it would be a great idea to make an app for us, by us,” said Lafleur.

The “for the people, by the people” concept was made possible by Lafleur, as well as his colleagues John Makrakis, Sam Zangooi, and Shaheen Zangooi. With little knowledge about startups or mobile apps, they managed to create Tell, the mobile app for iOS7 that allows users to send private messages that can be deleted upon viewing. The app also allows users to set a timer on a specific message that can delete itself from a recipients phone if it is not viewed by the time set by the sender.

Lafleur also said the privacy features that the app provides can be used in the business world as well.

“There are a lot of business applications too; lawyers sending confidential messages to clients, business passwords, business emails, work meeting locations, all that kind of stuff.”

By keeping their ears open, Lafleur and his colleagues managed to develop an app outside of the laboratory by listening to their friends’ frustrations with text messages. Lafleur mentioned that even when it comes to dating or nights out, getting rid of unfavourable messages to eliminate potential headaches would be beneficial.

“It’s a good way to know that whatever you send to your friends is deleted after they’ve read it, they can’t go around showing it to other people. I have no idea how many times I’ve heard people say ‘wow, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app that deleted your messages?’”

Lafleur said that just being a student at UW was enough to push him and his colleagues to enter the startup world, despite not being familiar with it.

“We see so much success come out of UW in the startup world, [and] I felt that I could never do something like that because you need such a tech background, but UW kind of showed me ‘you know what? I think we can do this.’ Had [we] not gone to UW we wouldn’t have thought that there was a market [for] this type of stuff.”

Lafleur and his colleagues may be unlikely tech entrepreneurs, and he said that getting your idea out there and identifying your vision are crucial, regardless of your educational background.

“We wanted to come in and show people that [with] the app industry, anybody can do it. You don’t have to know anything about it, you just have to know what you want to make.”

By sticking with their vision, and focusing on the needs of the consumer, they were able to bypass useless features and suggestions based on what is cool or trendy.

“We focused on the user the entire way through,” he said. “People just want a simple app.”

Tell is set to launch in March, and to be added to the mailing list, you can go to <a href="http://www.taptotell.ca" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">www.taptotell.ca</a>.