A team of Cal Poly students has set out to help people fulfill their dreams.
GRAPPPLE, a start-up company of Cal Poly students and graduates, is a social media-based bucket list that will allow people to make connections based on their goals.
The idea started as a concept for a travel site, but evolved into a bucket list-themed social network, said Will Hitchcock, graphic communication senior and user interface developer for the GRAPPPLE team.
“Everyone’s kind of got a bucket list, or a list of things they want to do before they die or leave (San Luis Obispo),” Hitchcock said. “A lot of times, you create that list and put it in a drawer and forget about it.”
GRAPPPLE, though, can help people keep their bucket lists in mind and connect with others who either have experience in related goals or would like to accomplish the same thing.
For instance, someone who puts “Visit the Eiffel Tower” on their GRAPPPLE list will be connected to people who have visited the Eiffel Tower and can offer advice, as well as those who also want to visit the Eiffel Tower and could potentially plan a trip together, Hitchcock said.
The name comes from the idea of using a grappling hook to shoot at targets, and reflects the adventurous spirit of GRAPPPLE’s intended user base, Hitchcock said.
The website is designed to function similar to “Pinterest,” a virtual bulletin board-type site, according to graphic communication senior and GRAPPPLE team designer Alyssa Pelletier. Like Pinterest, GRAPPPLE users will be able to browse by topic, but these topics would be centered on goals.
“You’ll be able to browse through people’s bucket list items,” Pelletier said.
The team plans to beta launch both the website and iPhone app by the end of April, at which time approximately 1,000 people can try the new social network.
After several months, the team hopes to open GRAPPPLE to the general public, Pelletier said.
“Once we’re ready to launch the whole thing, it’ll be all over Facebook,” Pelletier said.
Until GRAPPPLE is officially launched, Pelletier, Hitchcock and the rest of the GRAPPPLE team (business graduate and public relations head Garrett Lauringson, computer science junior and lead engineer Ross McKelvie and computer science graduate and iOS engineer Nathan Mock) are devoting all their time to the project.
Hitchcock, Pelletier and Mock all quit jobs in their career fields to focus on the start up, Pelletier said. The graduates spend all day at work, while the students on the team spend their days at school and nights working, Pelletier said.
“We’re up until 2 (a.m.) every night,” Pelletier said.
The team is hoping to turn their idea into a lasting company, even after they’ve all graduated, but right now, they’re planning to stay with GRAPPPLE at least through the summer, Pelletier said.
“We are all in this as far as we can go,” Pelletier said.
But the GRAPPPLE team is used to working in the face of the unknown.
Hitchcock, Pelletier and their teammates started working on GRAPPPLE three months ago, during Startup Weekend SLO, a 54-hour event where teams of Cal Poly students created the idea for a new company, set up the basic frameworks for their product or service and presented their idea to a panel of judges.
GRAPPPLE was awarded second place at the startup weekend, and received an invitation to the Hatchery, a program through Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that fosters new companies, said Jessie Becker, innovation coordinator for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“The Hatchery really provides a community of students who are all really ambitious,” Becker said.
Currently, the Hatchery is made up of the winners of last fall’s Elevator Pitch competition and GRAPPPLE.
As part of the Hatchery, GRAPPPLE received mentorship as well as an office near Trader Joe’s, along with other Hatchery startups, which fosters the creativity at GRAPPPLE, Hitchcock said.
“It’s really cool because we’re surrounded by other Cal Poly students who are doing similar things,” Hitchcock said.