Earlier this year, the tech-oriented program announced plans for an all-student-run startup incubator aimed at high school and college kids — a place to build and test business ideas alongside likeminded students.
I recently made a trip StudentRND’s Eastside location to meet the teams and hear about what they’re working on. But, more importantly, I wanted see how these younger entrepreneurs view the world. Here are the seven teams that make up the Summer 2012 class of the StudentRND incubator:
FireDove aims to be a social extension for browsers that will use affiliate marketing to raise money for charities.
The team consists of three high school students: two seniors from King’s Schools (Jack Kim and Dalton Caughell) and one senior from Garfield High (Lane Aasen). We covered Jack and Dalton’s previous startup, Benelab (where Jack was CEO and Dalton was CTO) this past December. It’s a site that used Bing’s search engine to raise money for charitable causes every month.
They’ve now teamed up with Aasen, whom they met through the incubator, to accomplish a similar goal. Aasen was first inspired to dive into programming through his 10th grade AP computer science class at Garfield High, taught at the time by Hélène Martin (featured in GeekWire’s “Geeks who Give Back” calendar). Aasen and Caughell serve as the technical talent behind this team, while Kim works the business and design end.
FireDove is a platform for non-profits, enabling them to gain money through affiliate searches. The non-profit would advertise their extension to their followers or fans, and ask them to install the plugin. Once installed, the extension will show which sites have affiliate deals with FireDove, and if the searcher buys from that site, then the non-profit will get a cut of the money.
Although this is their first stab at building an extension, the team has a good amount of experience coding in Java, C and Python.
After launch, the team plans to complete high school and maintain the service on the side. Kim hopes to attend Berkeley or Stanford, and Aasen and Caughell are looking to attend the University of Washington and apply for its Computer Science department (where Hélène Martin is now a lecturer).
CubeView is developing camera hardware that tracks the viewer’s head movements, extending that person’s view.
The team is made up of three high school students who met through clubs and classes at Newport High School in Bellevue: Mohammed Adib, president of the Computer Club at Newport; Eric Lin, head of robotics programming at Newport; and Andrew Nguyen, president of the science club. The three have worked together on previous robotics projects, one of which took first place at a national competition last year.
Their project, CubeView, is a piece of hardware that aims to detect head movements of a person and responsively move another camera in a different location. One simple application is video conferencing software. So far they have one prototype controllable via computer, and they are developing the movement recognition software over the next two weeks. They plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help fund mass production of the hardware.
BeatTap is an easy-to-use beat creator application for the iPhone.
Led by musicians and Bellevue College students Kathryn Brusewitz and Brandon Ramirez, this team wanted an easy way to make beats on the go and couldn’t find a satisfactory solution out in the market.
They were looking for something lightweight that can do the simple things right, noting that current applications have functionality and crashing problems. They are possibly looking to relocate to Los Angeles to take advantage of connections in the entertainment industry.
4. Rain Arcade
Rain Arcade is developing mobile games that appeal to a younger generation.
This was one of my personal favorites. Not only did they display business and market intelligence, but they also had a great team dynamic that was professional yet brought me back to my high school years. (Yes, you can insert “you’re not that old” jokes here!) The team consists of four friends from high school who met in their advanced high school math class: Jerry Sun, Jared Nakahara, Anwell Wang and Dylan Steele.
Nakahara is a self-proclaimed gaming addict, always on his iPhone or online. After playing games for many hours, he decided to take a stab at creating his own. Teaming up with his buddies, they created their first game, Mole Run. It’s puzzle game reminiscent of the popular game UnblockMe or, if you’re old-school, Dig Dug. You play the role of a mole that is trying to dig to the exit, but must move around boulders to do so. The really amazing part of this game? The guys create all the puzzles themselves. In fact, they have sleepovers where they stay up all night creating harder and harder puzzles. Now that’s dedication.
The goal is to make games that are fun to play, even if you only have one minute on your hands.
Cheqrz, led by Shakeel Mohamed and Andrew Craswell, is attempting to unify the checkins you do on all apps and gamify them.
This team of two local computer science majors is looking to take all of your checkins — from Yelp, Path, Foursquare, Facebook and other services — and put them in one place. The entrepreneurs came up with the idea after becoming frustrated having to checkin to a number of apps. They tout the competitive advantage of being a third-party app that can access your data from all sources. The team has spent hours researching terms and agreements on the most popular sites and say that pulling all the data is totally OK. (I’m a bit skeptical, especially with things like Twitter limiting calls happening). It’s a bit concerning as popular sites could block them out as soon as they get big (like PadMapper and Craigslist), but the team is determined.
Mohamed is a junior at Seattle University, studying computer science with a minor in entrepreneurship. Craswell is a junior at The University of Washington where he plans to major in computer science with a minor in economics. With two devs behind this project, they can move quickly and iterate on new ideas.
Locatr helps people find things they typically lose around the house — keys, remote controls, etc.
The team is using RFID chip technology to communicate with your phone through a Bluetooth connection. Your phone will have a compass on it pointing you in the direction of your lost object. There are some speed bumps that Locatr has had to deal with revolving around the different types of RFID chips and their expense.
The team consists of four Interlake High School seniors: Kevin Tam, Isaku Kamada, Akash Gupta and Kevin Vu.
An intern matchmaking service exclusively for high school students.
Led by John Ma and Grace Hsieh, InternFox emerged from personal experience. They were looking for an internship experience for the summer, but found that it was extremely hard to pinpoint opportunities. With InternFox, they’ve taken it upon themselves to build a site that will solve this problem.