An interview with the Founders & Developers of Bounce

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Often times, hiring someone to develop an app can be expensive. To solve this issue, the founders may choose to develop the app themselves. This can be extremely tough to do, but the founders of Bounce were able to accomplish this task successfully!

“Bounce is a new social app for neighbors. Join & grow neighborhood communities – called homepoints – and bounce home with them later in the night. Chat with your neighbors directly, plan hangouts, and get to know what’s good in your hood.”

Check out Bounce here!

Where did you come up with the idea for this app?

When I (Robin) was a freshman, I used to head out to parties early in the night with my roommate, and we’d run into other friends, and end up going separate ways by the end of the night. I found myself asking everyone around me if they were also headed to the same dorm (South Quad), and would collect the phone numbers and create a group chat of all of the people from South Quad. Then, I’d plan my night around leaving with the new dorm-mates I had found, because I didn’t want to walk home alone. I noticed that if there was a way to pre-group my dorm-mates, even strangers who live in my dorm, I wouldn’t have to leave with the intention of sticking with my one roommate all night, and technology could make it very easy to find out which of my dorm-mates were nearby, when I was ready to leave. In this moment, technology would have given me the independence I so badly wanted.

What problem is this app trying to solve?

When getting home, you consider three factors: price, safety (comfort-level), and efficiency. Many students can’t afford to use Uber every day, so we resort to walking home alone while often feeling scared, or planning our stay around how long our friends want to stay, so that we can walk home with them. No easy way exists to get home with neighbors, either for cheaper rideshares or safer travels. Bounce groups you with your neighbors who are nearby when you’re out late, so that you can walk/uber home with them, without actively searching for your roommates or sticking to their plans.

How big is your team? What are the positions/experience of each (ex. Computer Science senior at Michigan State)

We’re a team of two people, both Computer Science juniors at the University of Michigan. Robin interned as an iOS Developer at VSCO this past summer, and Steven interned as a Web Developer at Weebly.

Did you receive any outside support for this app between development to promotion?

Yes – we received a grant and mentorship from the Thiel Foundation, and a grant from competing and winning the University of Michigan’s OptiMize Social Innovation Challenge. We’ve had some great mentorship from wonderful people at both organizations along the way.

Did you develop this app in house or hire someone else?

We spent the summer working hard and developed it ourselves!

What were some of the biggest struggles you have had over the course of developing your app? Did you have to learn new APIs? How much experience did you have?

We didn’t have any iOS or UI/UX design experience before starting this app, and we had to learn it all. We started this at MHacks 5, a college hackathon at the University of Michigan. The pressure of having to finish it in two days was a great stimulus to get started bootstrapping things quickly. We had to learn Objective-C, Swift, and Parse since we use it extensively in our app.

How long did development take? What factors influenced the development time?

Development took every minute of our free time this summer, so about 3 months. We were also working full-time internships, so we would come home and work some more. It was hectic, but motivating knowing that we were trying to solve a real problem.

Did you have a beta tester process?

Nope! We wanted to get this in users’ hands as soon as possible, and have been refining it quickly. So far, everything works as expected!

Are you available on Android too, or just iOS? If just iOS, why iOS first?

We’re working on an Android version right now, and it’s coming in a few months. We chose to develop for iOS, because we’re all decked out in Apple products. Also, we had also been dabbling in iOS prior to getting started with Bounce.

How are you spreading the word about the app?

We wanted to try something different, where we spend money on good, rather than marketing – we created a Facebook post for our launch, and we donated $1 for each share to the Day of the Girl campaign by Save The Children, a cause that we both care deeply about. We ended up getting almost 15,000 views using this technique! We’re still experimenting with other techniques in social media other than word of mouth. Spreading the word is definitely a challenge.

What are your future goals and aspirations for this application?

Our ultimate goal is to make neighborhoods safer and more social. Homepoints do a really great job of doing that, and we have a lot of ideas to create new functionality for these neighborhood groups, once we see them growing.

Why should people download this app in one sentence?

Go out anywhere – come home with neighbors.

Word of advice to people looking to have an app built?

In terms of development: It’s really, really helpful to know how to code. Often your users will need a feature or a bug fix after releasing your app, and you should be able to deploy it to them quickly. Also, use Parse if your app needs a backend – it can save a lot of development time and hence a lot of money if you’re not making it yourself.

In terms of everything else: Having a solid cofounder you can trust is awesome. You’ll need to depend on each other when times are rough, and it’ll help you gain perspective with all of the choices you are going to have to make.