← Techstars Blog
11/17/2010

by Abby Fichtner

StopGoStopGo at Boston Mobile Startup Weekend

This weekend, Startup Weekend held their first ever Mobile Startup Weekend in Boston and the results were nothing short of incredible. Over 100 people came together for 54 hours  to create 10 brand new startups and further 2 existing, early-stage mobile startups.

One of the brand new startups was StopGoStopGo, who created a Windows Phone 7application for predicting train times on Boston’s MBTA trains.

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Friday night, as 100 people gathered – unsure of what startups they’d be forming that weekend – Derek Anzalone got up in front of the crowd to pitch his idea. He shared a war story from his first big job interview. It was a big deal, so he left his house an hour early to make sure he wouldn’t be late. But, when he got on the train, it moved all of about 4 feet from the platform before stopping… and sitting… for 2 hours! As he sat there, wondering if he’d make his interview, he kept looking up the service alerts, but they didn’t update until an hour after it had stopped! Needless to say, he didn’t make the interview.

Each of StopGoStopGo’s team members had come to Startup Weekend with no experience developing Windows Phone 7 applications. When they heard Derek tell his story and say how MBTA was now publishing RSS feeds with the train times, they thought this would be a simple application to get them experience developing on the phone.  However, as they started looking at the data and comparing it to actual arrival times, they realized the feed was really bad at guessing when the train would arrive.

And so, their business model began to form. What if they could build a system that uses forecasting algorithms to accurately predict when the train would arrive? What if you had an app on your cell phone that could give you this information so that you could determine if, say, you had time for that cup of coffee before heading into your meeting? What if the system could learn about you – and the more you used it, the more it could help you? Stuck at the station with 15 minutes to spare, how about a free latte at the Starbucks next door?

So what was it like trying to not only learn a totally new mobile platform but develop an app with it, on a team you’d never worked with before, in only 54 hours?  According to Derek, “It was a blast.” He’d started looking into Win Phone 7 a couple weeks before and really liked what he saw. So, he came to Startup Weekend intent to build something on it. “It’s new, it’s cool, and it seems like a great platform to code for.”

For Chandu Dondeti, who created the applications’ slick design in Expression Blend, this was his first experience building a mobile application on any platform.  “I came to the table with an open mind to pick a platform and see where it takes me… When I met Derek and Michael, I was excited to see others equally excited to do something. It was a very good learning experience and, I should say, an amazing experience for a first mobile application.”

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StopGoStopGo team: Michael Cox, Chandu Dondeti, David Crosbie, Derek Anazalone

Congratulations to StopGoStopGo for their fabulous (working!) application, which is running on Windows Phone 7 and Azure (both of which were firsts for the team). We were so impressed, we gave them a Windows Phone 7 device as a prize and can’t wait to use their application to help us avoid the stop & go!

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