The Need is Real
If you ask most entrepreneurs if their product or service has a real need, they will mindlessly give their rehearsed pitch on why Product X or Platform Z will truly make an impact on the modern consumer ecosystem. Despite what they say, these visions usually end up hitting a stone wall.
Spontivity is different. Yes, different. Where Facebook and Twitter keep you pinned up inside the walled garden that is your close network of distant friends, we effortlessly bring you nearest to the one thing that drives society: people. The latest trending hashtag on Twitter or the hottest new video on Youtube, these things don't drive society forward, its human interaction and the willingness to step up and live life well lived that makes us human. Are you convinced?
Live Life Like You Mean It
Through an iOS (and soon to be Android) application, we connect you to the latest activities going on around you. These activities span a diverse set of interests, from ultimate frisbee and hiking to photography meet-ups in a coffee shop and monopoly night at your neighbors house down the street. All of these activities are driven by you and all the people around you, where everyone brings incredible experiences devoted to living life like it was meant to be lived, that is, enjoying life in the company of people with interests just like yours. As our name implies, we are spontaneous, and we hope you will be too. You can only plan events, or spontivities, one week out from the current date. You give us your spontivity, and we make the world around you aware of it; however, should you want it to be private, you can choose this as well and choose who you want to join, but we encourage you to make new connections and explore the lives of those you would have never met otherwise. We also give you a calendar to keep track of all your attending and hosting spontivities, and we use Facebook to hook you into our service, so you should know you are on solid ground if you choose us.
Build it, Ship it
Spontivity is built on the iOS platform written completely in Swift 2, Apple's new open source programming language and state of the art tool for mobile development. Regardless of what modern iOS device you are on, Spontivity will run perfectly. We have built a completely custom UI made within the last two days. The local data storage and ORM layer is built on top of Realm, a Y-Combinator backed company, devoted to excellence. The backend is engineered in a highly scalable and reliable microservices architecture written in Python. On the backend, we use PostgreSQL for persistent storage and Redis for storing things like session cookies and real-time messages. The backend is built on top of Heroku, a PaaS that is itself built on top of Amazon Web Services, both engineered by thousands of brilliant minds to handle massive load and allow for quick iteration in development.
NOTE ON LOCATION: The way we aggregate local spontivities is by using the Haversine formula (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haversine_formula) to derive an enclosing circle centered around any latitude/longitude pair and radial distance in miles or kilometers, which we then use to query our PostgreSQL database for all spontivities with latitude/longitude pairs within that region and return only what lies within, thus giving to our amazing users spontivities in their own area.
Over the Hills
We faced several engineering challenges:
Learning how to use a mobile database and deal with local persistence
Migrating backend database in PostgreSQL with Flask and Alembic
Engineering a REST API using best practices and proven standards
There is Always a Lesson
Nothing is impossible in development (nearly), always strive to do better in developing great code and reliable applications
The user is ALWAYS first and foremost
Sometimes you have to trash what you like most (some of your code that you have an affinity for despite its shortcomings) to embrace what is better, even if you don't like what is better
Teamwork is quintessential in success of any endeavor. Kyle and I learned more about working together in this short weekend than we have in working together through many a school assignments and mini side projects over the last two years.
Kyle and I continue to work together on this and hopefully much more, always looking to build the next great thing
Above all else, we want to make a positive difference. By working on Spontivity, we think its our best bet for accomplishing that.