Wayne State students Erica and Jamarr Hill are currently developing an app called Transwer that would make it possible to avoid overcrowded buses and know the exact location of any bus on campus.
Erica and Jamarr said that Transwer would give users input from the community to make public transportation friendlier. The duo said the motive for the app was hearing a lot of complaints that other related apps only displayed schedules, which tend to be inaccurate due to buses never being on time.
The two developers admit they had originally not planned on including community involvement, but while finalizing the nuisances of the app decided to develop the interactive feature.
“We didn't even want that at first, we had no community involvement. We just said we wanted to give them an estimated time of arrival with something that was more accurate than what was currently out there…we wanted to give them a product that actually works," Erica said.
To help make this app a reality, the students are undergoing training for student entrepreneurs at TechTown, WSU's business incubator, to help turn their idea into a business. Located in Detroit’s “Technology Corridor,” TechTown was established in 2004 to empower Detroit’s visionaries with powerful tools to create startups and turn them into sustainable businesses.
Aimed at college students seeking to launch their successful technology startups, DTX Launch Detroit, a technology accelerator under the Detroit Technology Exchange program is an intensive and competitive 10-week training camp.
“If they have really high potential, and we see a mutual benefit in us continuing to work with them, we will bring them on as incubation clients, which means that we will continue mentoring them, coaching them and working with them through whatever business problems they have as they move forward with their company," said Marielle Temkin, TechTown’s marketing and communications coordinator.
The Hill’s said that they have learned a lot about their product's strengths and weaknesses while undergoing this program. They say they not only have a better product, but an almost completely different one since its conception.
Erica said she enjoys the intensive nature of the program. "If you're a glutton for punishment like most entrepreneurs are, then it's fun," she said.
For 10 weeks, the students meet at TechTown, form into groups and prepare to make their weekly pitch in front of other students and their mentors. Then they are critiqued on their features, ideas or new research.
"We are not learning theory anymore," Jamarr said. "[They] are here to tell you everything that is stupid about your idea."
Erica and Jamarr are now halfway through the program, and they say the signs of progress are showing, as they have a better understanding of what, where and how their app could succeed and fulfill a need on the marketplace.
"[The DTX program is] the most valuable thing that I've been a part of, — hands down," Erica said.