Kelowna entrepreneurs use Tech Stars weekend to develop cool apps - InfoNews

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Kelowna entrepreneurs use Tech Stars weekend to develop cool apps

Alex Lukey was one of the top finishers at last weekend's tech startup event with her Playful at Heart app.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Alex Lukey
March 29, 2019 - 4:00 PM

KELOWNA - It only took Barbara Chung and her team 54 hours to create a prototype of her LunchLink app, but there’s still a ton of work to be done to make it a viable, saleable product. For Alex Lukey, with no business background and fewer tech skills, it was more about creating an educational tool for cardiac patients she calls Playful at Heart than starting a business, but the whole experience blew her away.

Both were among the top finishers in the Tech Stars Start Up Weekend in Kelowna, March 22 to 24, and both had one minute to pitch their idea, then find four strangers to help them develop the concept and business plan over the weekend.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Lukey said today, March 29. Her team won a $2,500 legal package from Lawson Lundell after developing the concept of an interactive app for cardiac patients and their caregivers.

“I’m really excited about it,” Lukey said. “Obviously, it’s an important issue to people. It’s something they care about. Even when I pitched it, I had no idea it would get picked as something that would be worked on for the weekend.”

Lukey is a nursing student at UBC Okanagan who started researching cardiac issues last fall as she prepared to go into her Masters program in May. This was an idea that tied into her research and touches on her passion for educating others.

There are other apps out there to teach patients about heart issues but her plan is to take the concept further, something call gamification. It's not a game but has game-like features.

The idea is to create an interactive tool where users not only learn about their heart condition but can focus on their particular ailment and measure their progress. It's something she hopes can be used both by patients and by caregivers.

Without the tech skills to develop an actual prototype, her team focused more on determining whether there was a need and interest for such an app and develop a business plan.

Lukey connected with cardiac groups on Facebook and is now in contact with one person who develops games in the San Francisco area along with local health tech companies who are interested in working with her to develop the idea further.

Barbara Chung, right, headed one of the top teams at a tech startup event in Kelowna last weekend with her LunchLink app. She's joined on stage by teammate Danielle Hofer.
Barbara Chung, right, headed one of the top teams at a tech startup event in Kelowna last weekend with her LunchLink app. She's joined on stage by teammate Danielle Hofer.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Barbara Chung

Chung, on the other hand, does have a tech background so actually developed a prototype app and a web page over the weekend. Her team won a $1,200 Valhalla Basecamp prize that will teach them how to raise capital, target the right investors and structure a pitch that is attractive to investors.

Her LunchLink idea came to her while travelling to Vancouver on business and finding herself with a free evening.

“I thought it would be really cool to have an app that allowed you to network,” Chung said. “Like having Linkedin and connecting it to real life so I could actually have dinner with another professional instead of having dinner by myself.”

Logging in through Linkedin prequalifies the users and the connections can be sorted by profession, Chung explained.

Over the weekend she taught herself how to create an app using a basic template and set up a web page. Others on her team helped with the marketing strategy, which aims at getting it to the point where it can be sold through something like the App Store (she doesn’t want ads in it) or sold to Linkedin as an optional add-on for members.

She sees it possibly creating three or four jobs in Kelowna. A couple would be for developers, another for tech support and a fourth for marketing

As a solutions consultant with a local tech company, she has the skills to have done it on her own but was inspired, first of all, to have her pitch selected. The help of her teammates – whom she had never met before – was essential to push through with a winning presentation.

“You can approach this app just as an individual but working as part of a team is what makes it really fun,” Chung said. “It goes back to the whole concept of the app. It’s not about being alone. It’s about doing things together and doing things over a meal. And networking. And connectiveness. That was kind of our driving principal for working together on the app. We want to foster connectiveness and togetherness.”

For both women, their next steps are to see what kind of teams they can build to take these concepts to the next level. That may include willing team members they met over the weekend or new people they connected with since launching these projects.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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