Rutgers student and alumni launch app to find hottest spots on campus

In the coming weeks, a team of four will officially launch Jabbr, a real-time, event-based mobile app that locates the hottest spot on campus and gives users an exclusive peek inside.

The team includes two Rutgers alumni and one current student. Vincent Michelino and Francisco Miranda are the co-founders of Jabbr. They do not have a background in computer science and they do not have programming experience.

Miranda and Michelino conceived the idea for the app two ago after reflecting on a night out in New Brunswick, Michelino said.

“It became obvious to us,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that immediately presented you with the hottest spot in your area, then went a step further and gave you a look inside?”

The pair went through an exhaustive process to find the perfect partners to collaborate with, and faced failure every time they thought they we were close, Miranda said.

Back in July, Michelino and Miranda teamed up with John Reda, the designer, and Nathan Hawley, the developer, he said.

Reda was an acquaintance of theirs from South River, N.J. At the time Michelino reached out, he was enrolled in a coding course offered at Rutgers, he said.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Reda said. “But after Vince and I grabbed a cup of coffee and spoke about it in greater detail, it became very obvious to me that this was one of those special ideas that come along every once in awhile.”

Reda was excited to design the basic template that they laid together, but they needed a developer who could make it come to life. This is where Hawley came in, he said.

Hawley is a current Rutgers student and the final part of this team. He joined out of an interest in the unique concept and belief that he could formulate the necessary algorithm, he said.

“I’m happy, because at the end of the day we created something really cool,” he said. “Everything about it — the app itself, the process of collaborating with the team, the simple design ... seeing this all come together was satisfying.”

The team has stressed ease-of-use as the most inviting aspect of Jabbr, Michelino said.

“When you grant the app access to your location services, you instantly become part of the community that makes the app work. It takes users 0 clicks to achieve core functionality,” he said. “Anonymity is assigned to each user, so there are no profiles to build out, and the experience is pretty fluid.”

With everything from a development perspective in place, all other responsibilities fell to Michelino and Miranda. That includes marketing, public relations, budgeting and event coordination, he said.

As for the team's marketing initiatives, they expect students throughout campus to interact with their brand in assorted ways, thanks to targeted “guerilla tactics." In addition, Michelino said the group has partnered with Brainscan Productions to feature a teaser video and marketing clip on their landing page.

“We chose Rutgers because for all of us, this is home, and it just so happens to be the perfect test market. If it works here, it’ll will work everywhere,” Michelino said.

The group wants to accomplish a few things. First, they want to enable a community of users, known as “Jabbrs,” who use the app as a resource, he said.

“When they launch Jabbr, they need to be directly immersed in the hottest spot on campus in real-time, which could be the best bar, biggest party, craziest tailgate, random dorms, or various student events throughout campus,” he said.

This app is meant to be intuitive and follow the crowd throughout the day and night. The designers also want people to engage within the platform by offering specifications, posting selfies, or liking comments, he said.

The group has many plans for future updates, and even hint at a new feature in its current version— a search tool called "Seekr," which could allow students to seek out the hotspots in surrounding campuses, he said.

The group prides themselves on being different from most other technology founders, he said.

“We like to think of ourselves as the ‘anti-Zuckerbergs’ because we’re breaking from the script in almost every way possible," Michelino said. "We think like college kids and it’s a clear strategic advantage."

George Xie is a Rutgers Business School junior majoring in finance. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. You can see more on Twitter @georgefxie.

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