California State University, Northridge students Navin Row, Ali Saeed-Alqahtani, Ryan Duckworth and Harout Ter-Papyan approached their entry into the second annual AppJam Showcase — a contest where undergraduate and graduate students competed to create the best mobile app — with the goal of transforming what started out as a simple idea into a service that could help their fellow students.
According to the group, the inspiration for the app Fyndit came when a classmate in their senior design class kept asking them where he could access a variety of campus resources.
“[My classmate] would always ask where on campus he could use a microwave or where he could go to print out papers,” Row said. “Finally he said, ‘You guys should just make an app that shows people where everything is at.’”
Fyndit was born with the goal of helping CSUN students find everything on campus from classrooms to vending machines. To see that idea come to fruition took many hours of work. “There was a lot of communication back and forth, a lot of in-person meetings and a lot of late nights,” Duckworth said.
That hard work received its reward at the March 30 AppJam Showcase, when the creators of Fyndit earned first place and a cash prize of $3,000 for their winning app. Yet theirs was just one of several success stories on an energy-filled afternoon, when 33 teams presented their apps for the campus community to view and in some cases test out the teams’ innovative creations.
Second place and $2,000 went to students Benjamin Villalobos, Edward Villamor and Scott Judge for Bike Tracker. The app is meant to immediately assist students if their bicycle is stolen. The app will alert students that their bike has moved and if someone suspects that a bike has been stolen, the owner will be able to file a police report through the app using the account information they provide when initially signing up.
Armen Arslanian and Saba Janamian received $1,000 for their third-place app, CSUN Easy-Park. The app gives students real-time updates about how many spaces are available in each CSUN parking lot.
“AppJam exemplifies the innovation and forward thinking that leads to student opportunities,” CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison said. “This competition is an opportunity for students to flex their creative muscles, to push their natural skill set and to collaborate with a team. These are all factors in preparing our students for rewarding and impactful careers.”
All the winning groups — including the popular-vote winner, SideBySide, a health-and-communication app voted by students on Portfolium, CSUN’s new, digital portfolio and career-readiness network — will receive professional start-up counseling in order to help advance their apps, through expert advice and networking from Bixel Exchange and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI).
“These startup resources will allow each of the winning teams to receive advice and counsel to potentially take their mobile app idea to the next level,” said CSUN Vice President for Information Technology Hilary Baker. “We are thankful to both LACI and Bixel Exchange for offering these services for our winning CSUN AppJam teams, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of the incubation discussions.”