App helps students measure alcohol content in containers
In an effort to make responsible drinking easier, two University students and an alumnus developed an iPhone app called “Shots iGot.”
Shots iGot features the top 40 most popularly used nontraditional liquid containers, such as water bottles, solo cups and Gatorade bottles, said Josh Rosenheck, creator of the app.
The user chooses a bottle and slides his or her finger to virtually fill the bottle to see the number of shots at any given level, said Rosenheck, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
The “MIXER” option allows users to measure spirits added to a bottle of a nonalcoholic beverage, and the camera feature lets users import pictures of their own bottle into the app, he said.
Rosenheck said his experiences as a fraternity brother his sophomore year inspired him to create the app.
Often, college students pour alcohol into unconventional bottles without measuring the alcohol content, he said.
“They do this for a number of reasons — to transport it, to store it, because you can’t have [alcohol] in dorms … you can’t have an alcohol bottle in a sorority house,” he said. “People do it all the time.”
But the app is intended to function as a harm reduction tool rather than to promote underage drinking, he said.
“We see irresponsible drinking, but we want you to be a little bit more responsible,” he said. “We [built] an iPhone app that will actually make a difference — that is what we really pride ourselves on.”
People’s brains sometimes have trouble calculating volume, therefore causing many drinkers to blindly pour too much liqueur into their containers, Rosenheck said.
“The estimates are potentially dangerous,” he said. “The difference between drinking three shots or accidentally pouring four or five shots could lead to over drinking, and we saw this multiple times. This can be prevented right when people are pouring.”
Rosenheck said he showed his idea to his friend Paras Jain, who became involved in the project. He constructed graphic images of bottles and the two created spreadsheets listing measurements.
But neither Rosenheck nor Jain knew how to code Apple’s iOS applications, so Rosenheck said on Nov. 9, they pitched their idea to investors he met at an N.J. Entrepreneurs and Tech Startups Meetup.
Rosenheck said the investors like their pitch but did not believe their idea had a fully developed revenue model. The investors suggested that Rosenheck and Jain take their idea to a hackathon.
Jain, the company’s chief operating officer, said hackathons allow computer programmers and software developers to collaborate intensively on software projects.
“You can pitch your idea, and whoever’s in the room … can create a team,” he said. “You can find coders, and you have 48 hours where you just sit in a room, no sleep, and you just code. The 48 hours is a competition.”
Jain, a University alumnus, said the investors told them Princeton University holds two hackathons a year, and one of them was later that night.
“We had no idea what hackathons were, so we just looked at each other, and we knew exactly that we were going right after this meeting,” he said. “On our drive down we looked up what [a] hackathon is about.”
Rosenheck said he and Jain arrived at the hackathon in business suits.
“We walk into this room of about 200 to 300 coders all in sweatpants and t-shirts,” he said.
Mike Verderese, chief technical officer of the group’s company, “Something with Flow,” said he knew Rosenheck from high school and heard he was in the works of pitching an idea for an app. Verderese, a computer science major, attended the Princeton University hackathon in hopes of teaming up with a developer.
Verderese, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he joined Rosenheck and Jain’s team. At the final demonstrations, their team won first place for most useful product across hardware, web software and mobile software and second place for best mobile app over all and crowd favorite, Rosenheck said.
Jain said the hackathon boosted his team’s morale.
“It gave us that fire that we knew we needed to keep on going and just kill it,” he said. “We had a few investors that were really, really pushing us. It just made us really excited.”
Rosenheck said the team spent the next two months working on full development. The team dedicated about 80 to 90 hours a week to their project.
“We were not sleeping,” he said. “We worked until at least five or six in the morning every night. I had never pulled an all-nighter for school, and I found myself pulling three to four a week with no sleep. It was all worth it though.”
Rosenheck said his team received offers from angel investors, which would require his team to give up a large percentage of equity. But his team did not want that, and instead, they invested with their own money.
After development, the team sent their final project to Apple Inc., but the company rejected Shots iGot, he said.
“My stomach twisted because I thought that they were originally rejecting the entire concept and we weren’t [going to] be able to put the hard work into the hands of our users,” he said.
But after correcting a simple design error, Apple Inc. approved Shots iGot and processed it to the app store, Rosenheck said.
Verderese said he was in a 200-person lecture hall when learning Apple approved his app.
“I had to like run out of class and call [Rosenheck], and we both were just freaking out over the phone,” he said. “It was just surreal.”
He said the team began to focus on promotion. The first day, they used Facebook to spread the word.
“We had 55 people sharing the link. It was just all over people’s Facebook newsfeeds,” he said. “We got into Penn State, Arizona State. We tried to spread the word as much as we could.”
The team then printed out 3,000 flyers and distributed them to eight different residence halls. Students in those residence halls now use Shots iGot on a regular basis, Verderese said.
On the third day of promotion, Rosenheck said he overheard two students he never met talking about his app.
“That was when I knew this was like a mini social network for us,” he said.
Now the team is working on taking the app viral by building what Rosenheck calls an arsenal of distribution weapons, including press kits and media releases.
The team plans to develop more apps, so they created a company called “Something With Flow.” He said the company’s name perfectly captures the team’s drive.
“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process,” he said.
Rosenheck said his team also attended the University of Pennsylvania’s hackathon, PennApps, and created the mobile app $pur, which acts as a mobile market place.