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Better for buyers: Shelfie and Popad give consumers control

The folks over at Popad hate advertising.
 
"It disrupts your experience," says John McClelland, co-founder of the company. "What if people in your community could make the ads you see … your friends, your family?"
 
McClelland and his Brandery-trained team are self-proclaimed data geeks. Their chief technology officer, Luke Libraro, has an RFID (radio frequency identification) card in his hand that allows him to enter the Brandery building with a simple wave.  Their "boy wonder" engineer, Skylar Roebuck, was head of product at a company called Mobiquity by the time he was 25. And Rachel Bires, their Instagram connoisseur, is actually a licensed attorney who is unbeatable at darts.
 
Together, they have created an interactive app where users can submit a photo of themselves using or displaying a particular product. That photo, after a series of votes by other Popad users, then becomes available to Popad clients for purchase. In return for their submission, the creator of the image will receive royalties if their "ad" is purchased. Right now, all submissions come through Instagram.
 
The idea behind Popad emerged when McClelland's wife posted an Instragram photo of his (presumably very cool) shoes. When friends saw the photo and subsequently bought the shoes, a lightbulb turned on. By allowing regular Joes to submit photos of themselves actually using or enjoying a product, Popad hopes to create a stronger, more authentic personal connection with the consumer. This, they believe, is much more effective than advertising in the abstract.
 
"There's more of a dialogue now—there's been a fundamental shift in how people are operating," McClelland says.
 
Consumer communication is a key part of another Brandery graduate's business plan. Shelfie was founded by Edward Betancourt, a quinoa-obsessed runner with mad programming skills, and C.J. Acosta, a Reddit loyalist with a knack for marketing and pink hoodies. Together, they've put together a data-generating application that has already seen stellar success in in-store audits.
 
The app itself gives shoppers the power to do something about an absent product on the shelf. If they notice a product is missing, they simply snap a "shelfie" of the empty shelf, send it through the app, and are rewarded for their participation with points that they can redeem later.
 
"Think of it as an easy, one pic review of the in-store experience," Acosta says.
 
By generating real-time data, Shelfie could potentially create solutions ranging from contacting sales representatives at the site to arranging to have the missing product shipped to a customer's home.
 
For now, Shelfie is looking for investors. By staying in marketing-friendly Cincinnati, or "the little city that could," Acosta and Betancourt have made incredible connections and are building on the consumer-first approach that was born during their time at the Brandery.
 
"The concept of tackling the problem, from the consumer's side, proved to be the radical and most disruptive thing we could do," Acosta says.

The customer is always funnier: The story behind Barefoot Proximity's new CIO

The existence of Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs) at growing creative companies is nothing new. It is, however, a role that is becoming more and more necessary as newer businesses emerge and already-existing companies fight to stay relevant. Barefoot Proximity, a Cincinnati-based advertising and communications agency, recently hired its new CIO both in response to this trend and to make sure that any opportunity to disrupt convention—or "innovate"—is seized will full force.
 
The man filling this role, Troy Hitch, is a character. His creative background in theatre and musical production is immediately apparent upon meeting him; he is animated, sarcastic and quick on his feet. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University, Hitch dabbled in everything from medical text illustration to creating interactive installations for the Cincinnati Zoo. As a creative individual, Hitch always knew that the Internet was a powerful tool. In 2004, he and a partner started their own content-generating studio, Big Fat Brain.
 
Big Fat Brain was based in Covington and dubbed a "new media studio" by its founders. Hitch and his partner made webisodes and short-form video content for companies looking to vamp up their websites.
 
"It was lo-fi production value, high content value stuff," Hitch says.
 
Big Fat Brain's national success led to a connection with the former president of CBS radio who had just started MyDamnChannel, an entertainment studio and distributor of web and TV content. Big Fat Brain's work with the company, which involved producing numerous creative webisodes, is what ultimately led Hitch and his partner to realize the power of consumer input.
 
"We could actually engineer a connection [to the user]," he says.
 
This realization came to a head with the success of Hitch's trans-media web video series, "You Suck at Photoshop," in 2008. The episodes, which have reached 100 million views to date, centered around a pissed-off guy, whom the viewer never sees, begrudgingly providing a YouTube tutorial.
 
When an overwhelming amount of fans insisted the "You Suck at Photoshop" guy was comedian Dane Cook, Hitch and his partner realized they could use that user connection to their advantage. They brought Dane Cook onto the show, and the Internet exploded.
 
Today, as the CIO at Barefoot, Hitch hopes to find more opportunities to truly involve the customer/consumer/audience when considering strategies for his clients. By integrating their inclinations and preferences in every way possible, Hitch hopes to expand on the opportunities presented to the company. As the person in charge of hiring Barefoot's creative department, he also plans to draw in talent that knows how to deal with that kind of data.
 
"This is not about me anymore," he says of his work. "The consumer is fickle—there are a million different options these days. We need a value exchange. My job is to engineer [the material] so that other people can create and think and inspire."
 
According to Hitch, the power of the media is that people want to participate. CIOs, he says, are necessary because the consumer expects something different than what the old agency formulas can deliver. That said, if it were up to him, the word "innovation" would be cut right out of the title.
 
"Innovation is an overused and abused word," Hitch says. "I like to describe my role as embracing complexity and delivering simplicity."
 
Every company's CIO may see their role differently. Still, when individuals like Hitch are hired to force companies to think way beyond the box, "innovation" in inevitable. 

RevolutionUC's hackathon brings young tech talent to Cincinnati

These days, the internet is littered with lists of life "hacks" that take everyday frustrations and make them mind-blowingly simple. This weekend, from November 14-16, students from across the tri-state area will spend two sleep-free days programming to create real solutions to real problems at the second annual hackathon, RevolutionUC, at the University of Cincinnati.
 
Local engineering and business data group Zipscene joins the list of sponsors for the event's second run. The hackathon provides a space for hundreds of talented students to hash out ideas for some sort of product or service that provides a solution to a common problem (a hack). During the two-day event, participants create a basic business plan that is detailed enough to implement into the University system. Last year's winner was a campus safety smartphone tool that sends a discrete call for help and uses GPS to track an individual's location when they may be in danger. UC is currently considering the tool's integration into its campus safety system.
 
Attendees can expect rows and rows of computers, laptops and charger cords with students congregating on the floor, in the corners, and on lounge chairs at the 800 Baldwin location, a part of the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science. Not many hackathon participants sleep; those that want to are encouraged to bring a blanket and a pillow. All meals are provided, from breakfast from Panera to lunch from Jimmy Johns and Currito to dinner from Adriaticos and Alabama-Q. Insomnia cookies will be providing sweet treats as well.
 
RevolutionUC is largely student run, and this year's event expects a turnout of more than 300 hundred young, creative minds from UC, Ohio State, Perdue, Kent State, Wright State and the University of Dayton. As a sponsor, Zipscene is there all weekend to support and mentor the students in attendance. That, and scope out a little talent for themselves. Last year, Zipscene hired two students they encountered at the hackathon.
 
Some hackathon participants continue working on their hacks long after the competition comes to a close. The exposure and connections gained at this weekend's event give them a leg-up in the industry.
 
Contestants will be judged based on the utility of their products, the creativity and technical difficulty involved, and overall polish. All experience levels are welcome, and high school and graduate students are equally encouraged to sign up.

Meet UpTech's new entrepreneur-in-residence

UpTech, Northern Kentucky's informatics accelerator, has recently announced the addition of a new member to its team. As the accelerator's first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EiR), JB Woodruff is evidence that UpTech is growing and changing for the better. Now, with a business coach on hand, UpTech's third class of startups will likely have a leg up when they graduate next spring.
 
Unlike a mentor, of which UpTech has many, Woodruff will not be offering industry-specific advice to the startups at the accelerator. Instead, he will offer strategic advice and coach the young companies on the general direction of their business. With a plethora of industry experience under his belt, Woodruff will act not only as a peer to whom the company founders can relate, but also as the person who oversees their development. He meets with each startup for one hour each week to discuss their progress and make sure things are moving forward.
 
Amanda Greenwell, Uptech's program director, sees Woodruff's arrival as a sign of UpTech's growth as an accelerator. With an EiR added to the roster, there is now someone at UpTech who is responsible for making sure these companies are actually accelerating.
 
"He totally fits in with our culture, he's a super nice guy, and you don't want to let him down," Greenwell says. "You want to please him, you want to make sure you're doing what you say you're going to do."
 
Woodruff, a Cincinnati native, has worked with 20-30 startups in the past and has traveled all over the world, including South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, to work with accelerators. He also helped jumpstart two local companies, Araytha and CampFinder.co, and has worked with UpTech in the past as an instructor for one of its lean startup method courses.
 
Woodruff sees his new role at UpTech as that of a motivator—someone who is there on a regular basis and is not only a peer, but also a tremendous resource for everything from graphic design, branding, marketing, web development and business strategy. His goal as the new EiR is to also make sure UpTech's decision to accept these companies into their program was a smart one.
 
"They made an investment," he says. "I'm here to help assure that they get a return on that investment."
 
Woodruff decided to work with UpTech because he was impressed with the UpTech vibe. When he returned from Cape Town, South Africa, last year, he was anxious to get involved in the thriving startup scene. He met dozens of people in the industry, but when he met the folks at UpTech, something clicked.
 
"They were by far the most open and engaged," he says. "They were not hesitant to say, 'We want you to work with us.'"
 
Woodruff is the official EiR for UpTech's third class of startups, UpTech III, which will graduate from the program in February 2015. Though Woodruff and his wife have lived in several different places over the years, they will be staying in Northern Kentucky for the foreseeable future.

DAAP students design contest-winning cars for Volkswagen

When Simon Wells arrived at the University of Cincinnati almost 5 years ago, he had been drawing for years. He had also dabbled in 3D modeling and computer graphics during high school in Texas. Though he had always had skill, his first day at UC's College of Design Architecture, Art and Planning brought him to an important realization.
 
"I wasn't any good," he says, laughing.
 
Five years later, Wells has more than developed his skills as a designer. Two weeks ago, Wells and his classmate Cameron Bresn were both named winners of the 2014 Volkswagen Design Contest.
 
The contest called for contestants across the country to design a car that might appear in a video game. But the typical racing game was not on Wells' radar. He wanted to go in a more sci-fi direction to truly excite the folks at Volkwagen.
 
"I wanted to show them something they wouldn't see at work," Wells says.
 
Wells' and Bresn's professor decided to integrate the contest into the semester-long design class. Since the goal of the class is to offer students the experience to land an internship, the Volkswagen Design Contest's promise of an internship in Germany was the perfect motivator.
 
Wells' winning design, entitled "The Quantum Ambassador," was chosen out of hundreds of applicants. The car he created would allow scientists to travel through space and eventually through a black hole—a true "journey into the unknown." The vehicle would be a large-scale "faraday cage," a tool police officers use to prevent electronic signals from reaching objects like cell phones. This feature would block the radiation from the black hole. The design itself even incorporated the "cage" theme.
 
Volkswagon was impressed, to say the least. As winners of their annual contest, Wells and Bresn will travel to Germany for an internship with the company next year.
 
Until then, Wells is already working with Volkswagon in California as an intern. His job is to imagine what the car of the future will look like it and to put his imagination to paper. Since Wells hopes to be doing this kind of work after graduation, this internship is a perfect opportunity. It's also the well-deserved product of five years of long hours and hard work. Wells' contest-winning entry will be a key part of his final portfolio at the end of the school year. 
 
"I used to get chest pains from the stress," Wells says. "But the work is enjoyable; at the end of the day, we're just drawing."

UC grad designs fall fashion collection

A graduate from UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) released a fall fashion collection that includes clothing, bags and accessories.
 
Mallory Muddiman, who opened Shop Mallory a month after graduating from DAAP, designed the line with her mother, who joined shortly after Muddiman began. They handcraft all of their work in their Newport studio.
 
"As a designer, I fall in love with each collection we create a little bit more than the one before," Muddiman says. "The goal is to create something different and more exciting each season."
 
During the design process, Muddiman begins with one or two pieces, using it as inspiration to base the rest of the line.
 
"This fall season I started with lipstick as this beginning inspiration," Muddiman says. "From there my mom and I begin sketching out ideas for motifs and garments. We sketch over and over again until we like it as a whole. Simultaneously we source materials and notions to make sure we have everything we need to make the pieces we want to make."  
 
After conceptualization, they shift their focus to a collection's more tangible elements.
 
"After that we create flat patterns, make mock-ups, do fittings, make prototypes and then finally start production," Muddiman says. "Things are very fluid and flexible in this process. We do our best to keep open minds the whole time."
 
Muddiman plans to use the fall collection as a means to increase future production and eventually offer her designs through other retailers.
 
"Our goal [is] to sell enough of this collection to be able to have our spring '15 collection made in an American factory," Muddiman says. "This is our next big step."
 

First POP-UP Cincy installation set for weekend

The first installment of Uptown Consortium's art and cuisine series, POP-UP Cincy, will take place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25 in Avondale. Concept Camp, the first of the series, will focus on the local technology and design sectors.
 
The event aims to provide artists of a variety of backgrounds with a space to work and receive feedback from other people within Cincinnati's creative community, as well as encourage others to articulate and share ideas.
 
"It's kind of about the struggle for a lot of the creative people in the city, that work in different disciplines, to know and have time to share what they do and get feedback from other creative individuals," says POP-UP Cincy organizer Catherine Richards. "There are all these different people working in the city doing amazing things, but they're often times working so hard in their own sphere that they often don't have time to overlap with other spheres of creativity."
 
A group of participating artists plan to make a screen of folded modular paper units that come together, and then install the piece in the storefront window, in which the larger community will collaborate. The event will occupy two storefronts.
 
"At first it was going to be just one space, but we were able to secure another space right across the street, which is where a bunch of artists are going to be working and doing installations," Richards says. "Some people are going to be doing on-site drawings on the wall. We're really taking over these two storefronts with a variety of things."
 
The event will be open to the public Saturday evening, from 5-7 p.m., in Avondale at the corner of Burnet and Rockdale avenues.  

Local entrepreneur invents new iPad case that doubles as battery, hotspot

A local entrepreneur recently revealed a new iPad case that expands wireless networking capabilities. The case, called FiiV, functions as a battery backup and enables users to insert a prepaid data SIM card to establish a WiFi hotspot. 
 
"I came up with this concept back in 2010 after getting an iPod touch for a Christmas gift," says FiiV founder Nathan Ellis. "And much like an iPad, it doesn't really work [to its full functionality] outside of a data connection or wireless network."
 
Ellis wanted to create a solution to purchasing multiple iPad accessories while maintaining the extra benefits, and also give customers the option to switch between wireless data carriers.
 
"The real value is the all-in-one solution. Customers are virtually spending around the same amount, if not less, than they would normally," Ellis says. Most folks don't actually get the choice once they get to a point where they don't like those data rates or terms. "
 
Other devices can also use FiiV's WiFi hotspots.
 
"[The WiFi network] is not just for the iPad connected to the actual case," Ellis says. "It also accommodates other devices as well: cell phones, laptops, other tablets that may be around. It also functions as battery backup."
 
Local design firm The Launch Werks designed the case, which will be released by the brand Viaggi. Ellis plans to launch an indiegogo campaign November 2. 
 
"The goal is to raise enough funds to go ahead and do an initial manufacturing run," Ellis says. 
 
If all goes as planned, Viaggi will launch the first line of FiiV cases by May 2015. Currently, the retail price is set at $149, and the product will come in red, white and black, and also navy blue and brown during the campaign. 

Online photography platform Kandid.ly expands outreach

Since its public launch in August, local photography platform Kandid.ly has been expanding its outreach to cities outside of Cincinnati, recently adding Austin, Denver, Columbus and Detroit.
 
The company, which received the award for best up and coming web tech company at Cincinnati Innovates in late August, aims to streamline the process of connecting photographers with customers.
 
"We actually see an opportunity to change the way moments are meant to be captured," says Kandid.ly founder Sam Ulu. "Folks are going to start realizing that they have a large quantity of photos, but no quality—like selfies, all the grainy photos you take at events where you wish you would have been in it."
 
In an effort to maintain a variety of pricing, quality and availability options, Kandid.ly categorizes photographers into three groups: weekenders, part-timers and full-timers. Users can search for photographers by zip code, which provides portfolios and other details.
 
"We've made it easier for you to actually compare multiple photographers, their work and their pricing all in one place," Ulu says. "Today, it's very challenging to find photographers and then compare their work. You have to open multiple tabs and websites, and even with those multiple websites, it'd be challenging to figure out what each package has and compare them."
 
To make money, Kandid.ly takes commissions, depending on the photographer's skill level.
 
"That commission can go from anywhere between 5-15 percent," Ulu says. "It's kind of like tiers."
 
More established photographers provide Kandid.ly with lower commissions. In addition, for security, Kandid.ly requires photographers to undergo background checks through local startup myrepp.
 
Ulu hopes that Kandid.ly will bring new people interested in photography to use the platform.
 
"We're providing services that might bring folks who love photography, but never really considered doing it as business because of the amount of work it takes."
 

ArtWorks and Cincinnati Metro transform bus shelters into photo exhibit

ArtWorks and Cincinnati Metro recently collaborated on a venture to transform Cincinnati's bus shelters into a photo exhibit. As part of FotoFocus 2014, the project features the work of acclaimed photographer Richard Renaldi, as well as four ArtWorks youth apprentices and two local professional photographers.
 
The idea behind Renaldi's project, titled "Touching Strangers Cincinnati," is to capture interactions between strangers using the public transportation system—in which he encourages the subjects to pose together—and examine the diversity within the community. 
 
Renaldi visited Cincinnati in June to complete the project, and Cincinnati Metro hopes it will encourage people to use public transit.
 
"One of the reasons we agreed to host this display of public art in our shelters is because we wanted to show on public transportation, people can become friends," says Cincinnati Metro public affairs manager Jill Dunne. "We think it's really cool to show that if you put two people together, anything can happen."
 
Cincinnati Metro is hosting a celebration Oct. 16, in front of the Chiquita Center, between 5th and 6th streets. 
 
"It's meant to dedicate and really show off the shelters to the public," Dunne says. "We have some photos that are inside the bus, as well as a wrapped bus with one of the images on it."
 
ArtWorks has provided a map showing where "Touching Strangers Cincinnati" will be displayed. In addition, ArtWorks is hosting a lecture and presentation, featuring Renaldi, at the 21C Hotel at 6 p.m.

Sister duo creates superhero-inspired children's book and toy

A local teacher and a graphic designer recently wrote a book and developed a new children's toy that functions as both an alarm clock and nightlight.
 
Annie Richardson was inspired to write the story of SleeperHero as a way to help her son stay in bed at night. Richardson's sister, Meggie Hunley, illustrated the book and created a toy inspired by the story.
 
"The storybook introduces the doll to your kid, so we thought it was a really natural way to introduce the routine," Hunley says. "And most parents are already reading their kids bedtime stories."
 
The toy's timer can be set to a sleep and wake time, and works in conjunction with the nightlight function, as it turns from red to green at wake time.
 
"A few years ago, when [Richardson's] son was trying all the tricks in the book—he wanted a drink, he was scared—she felt like she needed something," Hunley says. "There are things out there on the market, but nothing seems quite special enough."
 
The SleeperHero's timer fits inside the doll, which has a lock on the outside to prevent a child from adjusting it.
 
"We also have some resources on our website," Hunley says. "A sleep chart for your child's progress and a little certificate of courage for when your kids have slept a week, a month, or whatever you feel like is worth rewarding."
 
The duo is currently selling the SleeperHero on their website, and plan to begin selling limited supplies in stores—The Spotted Goose, The Villager, The Blue Marble, Stony's Gift and Toy Shoppe—in November. They'll also be at the City Flea on October 11.

Design company chosen as West Elm grant contest finalist

In addition to creating its first line of furniture, design company Such + Such was announced a finalist for the West Elm's "We Love Local Small Businesses Grant" contest.
 
The company began in 2005 during Zach Darmanian-Harris' and Alex Aeschbury's tenure at UC's College of DAAP. The duo was randomly paired as roommates during their freshman year, and continued living together while in school, studying industrial design. For their senior thesis, they decided to pursue an entrepreneurial project, which became known as Such + Such in 2011.
 
"[Such + Such] is based on the idea of using small batch manufacturing and designing toward those processes," Darmanian-Harris says. "After [graduating] we took about a year to plan and get some money together and got our first CNC machine and set up shop in Losantiville."
 
Such + Such's selected pieces include clocks, a low and high stool, shelving unit, coffee tables and wooden record crates. 
 
"It's this nice point on the spectrum from really traditional to really outlandish designs; we're kind of just on the path of a modern contemporary vibe," Aeschbury says.
 
Now located in Cincinnati's West End, Such + Such designs and makes all of its products in Cincinnati and sources all of its materials locally.
 
"We've never really had an opportunity to aggressively market our work and really get it out," Aeschbury says. "And something we're really interested in is max customization, where you have a product line and you produce it in a limited run—10 to 20 pieces—and then you're making small changes every time."
 
One grand-prize winner will receive a $25,000 grant and mentorship from West Elm, and three runner-ups' products will be featured in West Elm during the holiday season.
 
Local PR and design firm PB&J is hosting a voting party Tuesday, October 7, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Contest winners will be announced November 19.

Collectors site adds new features, graduates from startup accelerator

A web developer launched a new iteration of his website to help collectors keep track of and discover collectables.
 
The website, CompleteSet, allows collectors to track their progress of collections and encourages members to contribute to the site's database—much like a wiki. The company graduated from Velocity, a startup accelerator in Jeffersonville, Ind., on Monday.
 
"It's about contributing to the collecting community," says CompleteSet co-founder and CEO Gary Darna. "It's often times very close-knit because there are message boards and stuff surrounding the subject matter."
 
Launched in May 2013 on an invite-only platform, CompleteSet has expanded its membership from 4,000 to 7,000—including users from 31 countries—since the beginning of August.
 
"If you're a collector, for instance, of Star Wars, you can go on there and see everything that's been released—not yet, of course, because not everything has been added, but that's the goal," Darna says. "Our users contribute collectables that they have in their collection and then the curator, who's typically one of our members, will review that and approve it."
 
The newest version of the site utilizes a search engine to help users track collectables, as well as a new interface.
 
"You can use that information, collectors [can] catalog what they have and want, and it allows us to figure out where those things are for sale, like on eBay, Amazon or any other marketplace online," Darna says.
 
CompleteSet is developing an iPhone app, and plans to launch it by the end of the year. The company has recently expanded from the two creators—Darna and Jaime Rump—to five employees and an intern.
 

Grateful Grahams owner organizes Covington festival

A new festival featuring music, food, art and other activities is taking place in October.
 
Grateful Grahams owner Rachael DesRochers created the Good People Festival in an effort to create an all-ages, family experience.  DesRochers came up with the idea with her friend, Ian Mathieu, when the two were at a music festival.
 
"I look at this event as a signature event to Grateful Grahams," DesRochers says. "Something that we can do every year that has our name behind it, that represents our company, our mission and values, and brings the community together."
 
The group partnered with Whole Foods Market and Green BEAN Delivery, who will also host kids activities throughout the day.
 
"We have an entire corner that's dedicated to kids activities," DesRochers says. "So the parents can even just say, 'Hey, let's go do a craft,' and they can take a break."
 
The event will feature more than 20 vendors, including Happy Chicks Bakery, the Delish Dish, Wearable Prayers, Maggie's Farm, Arnold's Bar & Grill and MadTree Brewery, among others.
 
"We've been able to pull from other parts of the city, not just Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky," DesRochers says. "Families can come out the day of the event, they can have lunch there, they can grab a beer, listen to one of seven bands that are going to be playing."
 
Americana/folk band Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle is headlining the event. The festival will also feature a "gratitude wall," on which people can write what they're grateful for.
 
The Good People Festival takes place October 12, at Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center in Covington from 12-6 p.m., and is free to the public.

Four-year old inspires story-based app

A Madeira family recently created an app, inspired by their 7-year old daughter (who was 4 when the app was conceived), that Apple featured on its App Store homepage.
 
The Alexanders were inspired to create the interactive story, "Kalley's Machine Plus Cats," during a job switch, in which Jon, the father, shifted from working as a freelance designer—which allowed him to stay at home much of his work time—to a full-time position that required him to be gone during the day. 
 
Jon and his wife Carrie explained to the then-four-year-old Kalley that the new job would help the family make money to buy food and other necessities. Kalley responded by drawing a picture of a machine that made food so Jon "wouldn't have to go away to work anymore."
 
"We're really impacted by the power of story, so we want to tell a story we need to hear," Jon says. "We want to really care about the things we care about, instead of all the things we seem to spend a lot of time on."
 
Jon and Carrie thought designing the app would be a great outlet for creativity as a family.
 
"[Kalley's Machine is] a story about togetherness, about priorities," Jon says. "It's very subtly about togetherness and priorities, because it's mostly a story about machines and cats, because we thought that's what the kids would like."
 
The family released "Kalley's Machine Plus Cats" through their new app development platform, RocketWagon, which they intend to continue using for future app ideas. 
 
"When you have kids and you start watching all the movies with them that they're watching, you start thinking about what those movies are saying," Jon says. "It makes you think as a parent, 'Well, what kind of stories do I want my kids to hear?'"
 
"Kalley's Machine" is available on iPhone and iPad.
 
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