Losing friends at a festival - it’s happened to all of us. One minute you’re patiently waiting for them to emerge by the portaloos, the next moment you’re lost in a mob of thousands of welly-clad music lovers dashing to the headline act.
But now a Jerseyman has designed an app inspired by that very situation, which uses augmented reality to help people pinpoint anyone, at any time, anywhere - and he thinks it could be the next app ‘giant’.
Fynd - the brainchild of islander Brett Wickenden, who currently lives in Bristol - aims to “reinvent the calendar” and connect people in a way never previously done.
Pictured: Fynd is all about reinventing the calendar, and using it in a way that allows to connect more easily with friends, colleagues and clients in a fun, visual way.
Users can create events in their calendar and invite others. Shortly before the ‘event’ begins - whether that’s meeting at a café or reuniting at a festival - the invited parties’ phones all hook up, allowing each member to track the progress of the others on their way. If lost, an ‘augmented reality’ camera view can be enabled in which flags pop up on screen, allowing the user to see where others are - even in a crowd. Users can also message each other using the in-app service.
“You don’t have that concern anymore that they’re not there. You just look at the app, and you can see they’re on their way,” Andrew Kingsland, Brett’s fellow festival goer, friend of 25 years and fellow ‘fyndster’ told Express.
Brett’s 'eureka moment' happened five years ago at a festival when trying to coordinate with others - “I realised that all the technology we needed to find each other was on our phones” - and had questioned how to make his dream a reality since then. Years later, a chance meeting - and a few beers - with Phil Beville at a Silverstone racing event would put him in touch with his future CEO.
Pictured: The Fynd team hope their app will take the hassle out of locating friends - whether near or far - with its in-built augmented reality 'viewfynder' and 'mapfynder' features.
“We had a meeting the next week, and discussed the idea when we were sober,” Brett said. “...And it was still a good idea,” CEO Phil added.
Together, they got in touch with developers in Deli, while lawyer Lucia Caporuscio later came on board to deal with the intellectual property and patenting end. “I immediately kicked in because I thought it was such a great idea and it was so important to get things protected for the future of the company because I know it’s really going to kick off,” she commented.
The team are all connected to Jersey, but are currently spread across the island and into the UK, meaning that team catch-ups consist of 07:00 calls to the developers and idea-sharing sessions in the late hours before heading to their jobs each day. It’s been a demanding process, they admit, but they say they’ve been fortunate to secure the “phenomenal” help of Nick Steel at Jersey Business on their business plan and financials and Digital Jersey.
Video: How does it work? This video explains all...
The key driver, which has helped propel them from development to launch in a mere six months has been the team’s unwavering enthusiasm.
“Having an idea and getting the passion of the team has been amazing. And when we released it, knowing that we did this from an idea hungover from a festival to getting this done, it was emotional,” Brett commented.
The team say they continue to be motivated by all the possibilities that Fynd presents. What started as a festival friend-finder could also be used to help parents locate their children to be picked up, businesses meet corporate clients out and about - indeed it’s how Express’ own reporter located the Fynd team for the interview.
Looking forward, Fynd could even be used as an advertising platform, with the augmented reality function helping to point out stalls, pop-up shops and offers at nearby establishments. It could also teach businesses about their passing foot traffic.
Pictured: The blackout feature means that users can 'hide' themselves from view whenever they want.
Despite the location service, Brett maintains that privacy has remained a key consideration throughout. Users’ locations are only tracked during the course of the ‘event’ - and they have the option to ‘black out’ at any time.
Five weeks since Fynd’s release and the team are still yet to have an ‘official’ launch, but word of mouth has already proven to be a powerful tool in helping new users ‘fynd’ the app. Indeed, during the course of the interview, Brett secures some downloads from an interested group of young people on the next table.
Driven by their belief in the app, the Fynd team have already invested a “significant” amount of money into the project, but will seek investment to secure their next steps. With that in place, in a year’s time, they hope to be looking at 500,000 to one million fyndsters on the app - and, for them, it’s very important that process starts in Jersey.
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