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Push Interactive: Ithaca College Students Form iBeacon Startup

Written by David Owens
3/1/2015

These orange devices are iBeacons that can send product information directly to consumers' smartphones.

It was senior week, the traditional time after spring finals where students get to enjoy their last moments in Ithaca before graduation.

As the notes of the final song faded, tiny devices placed around the room—iBeacons—went into action. They sent out a push notification to students in the room, giving them an exclusive download of the songs from the DJ’s set.

Push Interactive had successfully tested its product.

Push Interactive

The idea for Push came to life when Stephen Briggs ’15 and three other students formed a team for IC’s Business Idea Competition. The Business Idea Competition is a chance for students from all programs to pitch their ideas to a panel of alumni and community members in order to gain feedback and potentially win seed money to start their company.

Each student brought his own unique background to Push Interactive.

Briggs, a senior integrated marketing communications major, is responsible for branding, marketing, and working directly with clients to figure out how Push’s technology can solve their problems.

Austin Shoecraft ’14, who graduated with a degree in business administration, handles paperwork and financials. Senior Andrew Sowers, who is studying computer science, is responsible for back-end development, while Calvin Chestnut ’14, who majored in English, develops the mobile applications.

After winning judge’s choice in the Business Idea Competition, the team was approached by one of the competition judges, Jerry Dietz ’75. As the owner of a property management company, Deitz was intrigued by the potential of iBeacons. He became the fledgling company’s first client, and they spent the summer developing a mobile app for his company, CSP Management. The app uses iBeacons to alert people looking for rental properties when they are near a listing.

iBeacons

iBeacons are small battery-powered devices that can be placed in virtually any location. Each iBeacon emits a signal with a unique ID number. Phone apps built to work with the beacons can respond to the signal in various ways.

Briggs sees potential for iBeacons in a variety of locations, from museums to retail locations.

“For instance, if you walk into a retail store and you have the store’s app, it can instantly present you with a coupon for the day tailored to your specific interests,” he said. “If you approach a mannequin, it can instantly present you on your phone with all the different clothing items the mannequin is wearing, and even suggest other items you might like. It’s all the benefits of online shopping, applied to a physical space.”

Young Company

The team filed paperwork to establish Push Interactive as a company last May. Over the summer, they stayed in Ithaca and set up camp in a business school classroom. They met every day, working 9 to 5 toward finishing the CSP app.

At the end of the summer, Push was selected as one of the first four companies to work at the Rev startup incubator in downtown Ithaca. They even developed an app for the building, which tracks how people are using the startup's space. Rev is using the data collected from the app to decide how to renovate the second floor of the building.

As the company grows, they are reaching out to businesses in a variety of industries. Briggs said that the company is excited about the opportunity to expand and find new uses for their product.

“It’s dependent on where our research takes us, and what would make the most sense for a client. We’re open to working in any industry.”

Moving Forward

In early February, Push Interactive was acquired by GORGES, Inc., an Ithaca-based company that develops software, websites, and mobile apps. GORGES plans on using the technologies developed by Push to enhance their product line. 

 



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