Ivy-leaguers tap into the app game with TappMob

TappMob Screen


The teenage entrepreneurs behind TappMob have an extreme approach to app design: One button and one bar of text is all you need.

Their first app is a location-sharing tool that lets you share your whereabouts with your friends using a single button tap, but they think the same interface could work for many other apps, and they want to help other college students build those apps.

“We still check in with our parents,” admitted cofounder Eva Sasson, currently a student at Columbia University, on the team’s choice of location-sharing for its first app.

The young company grabbed the people’s choice award in the consumer division of this year’s MobileBeat conference.

TappMob gives young people a quick way to share locations by simply clicking the icon on your smart phone dashboard. But the duo does not consider Foursquare or Facebook check-ins competitors, because those apps are public-facing.

“We provide a private way to share your location,” explained Justin Mardjuki, the other TappMob cofounder and a student at the University of Pennsylvania. “We consider ourselves a competitor with text messaging.”

The one-touch action, while not a new concept, is executed nicely. The bar at the top of the app’s screen displays a contact (by default, it’s the last person you shared your location with), while the button in the middle performs an action. You can switch between contacts by using arrows on either side of the name.

With the company’s current model, locations are shared only with specific contacts who have also downloaded the app.

TappMob stays true to its “one tap” interface by automatically sending locations to the last contact used. If this contact is not the one your, you can use the built-in cancel feature, which gives you 4 seconds before completing the task.

Obviously, automatically sending your location to the last contact used could have complications. No mother wants to see her 18-year-old son check-in to Hooters, for instance.

But TappMob has a justification for its radical simplicity. “80 percent of the time we do one thing, 20 percent we do something else. 80 percent of the time you order a medium pizza, 20 percent you do something crazy,” said Mardjuki. In essence, TappMob expects that the majority of your interactions will be with one person or group, and thus the automated action will work to your desires 80 percent of the time.

Location-sharing is just the start for these ambitious entrepreneurial college kids.

Because the user interface is such a straightforward one – a bar and a button – the two expect that all kinds of apps can be made with their model. Sasson explained the point is to give college students the opportunity to identify a need and create the app themselves.

“We want to make a college powerhouse,” said Sasson. “We want to set students up with a server and app developer and give them an opportunity to use what we’ve created to make more apps.”

TappMob recently came out of stealth mode and has been incubated by New York based Accretive. The company was advised by Apple’s ex-CMO and received a modest amount of angel funding (the founders declined to state how much). As a part of their MobileBeat people’s choice award, TappMob will have a booth at the 2011 Fall DEMO conference.

Got six minutes to launch your game changer? We’re finding top-shelf thinkers from around the world ready to showcase their products at DEMO Fall, on the same stage where companies like Netscape, TiVo, E-Trade, and Java got their start. After you sweat out your six minutes of fame, head off the the DEMO pavilion to chat with potential investors, partners and show off the goods.  Apply for your spot here. Demo Fall 2011 is located at the Hyatt Regency in Silicon Valley, September 12-14.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.