An app developed by Durango High School students will go up against ideas developed by professionals during the state competition of the Go Code Colorado challenge.
The challenge, now in its fourth year, invites coders to use state-collected data to build apps. This year, the challenge was to use the data to solve a problem for a business decision-maker.
The first round of the challenge was hosted in five cities, including Durango, last weekend, and two teams from each city were selected to advance to the state-level competition. The top three teams win $25,000 and a contract with the state.
AdCub, an app that would allow large companies to buy advertising from schools and student organizations, and Internstorm, which would help businesses select interns, were the two ideas selected in Durango to advance.
The teams behind both apps created functional software for the Go Code Colorado challenge. And in an interesting twist, the leader of the student team is the daughter of the leader of the adult team that also advances to state competition. Six students from the Durango High computer programming club formed the AdCub team and beat adult teams for the chance to compete at state.
The students were inspired to create the ad-buying app because the student newspaper constantly needs money, but they also realized the schools and other student organizations could benefit from a new source of revenue as well, said team member Georgia Witchel, a freshman at DHS. Witchel founded the club at her school and did the coding for the team.
“I really love programming and I thought it would be cool if I tried to involve the community,” she said.
AdCub would keep a small percentage of the advertising revenue, but the schools and student organizations would see most of the profits, she said.
State data provides demographic information that allows large advertisers to target sub-demographic groups within the 265,500 high school students in Colorado they want to reach. It’s information that a student newspaper or other student organization wouldn’t be able to provide to sell online, print and outdoor banner advertising to a large company.
The large number of students a company could reach also makes it more appealing to a business than buying advertising through a single student organization.
The students expect their business idea could be expanded to reach college students as well
A planned mobile phone component of the app would allow students to sign up for coupons and other incentives from large companies as well.
If they win, the students might build the company a bit and then sell it, Witchel said.
“It would be a really great company for a big company to run,” Witchel said.
Witchel started learning how to code in the fifth grade from her father, John Witchel, who is leading the other Durango team advancing to state.
John Witchel’s team created Internstorm, an app that reverses the traditional model of placing interns. Instead of businesses listing intern openings, businesses would browse the intern profiles.
“Companies are very good at knowing what they want and students are very good at making online profiles, so it’s a very good fit,” Witchel said.
The app would be open for set windows of time for businesses to peruse prospective intern profiles and then interview them via video conference.
Most businesses place interns largely by word of mouth or personal referral, and the app provides opportunities to those who may not have personal connections, Witchel said.
It is also meant to speed up the intern-placement process that can take months.
The team used publicly available school and business data to build the app. Information on a student’s school will pop up along with an individual profile to give the business additional background about the student’s education.
Witchel is the president and chief operating officer for GitPrime, a Durango company that makes software to measure and manage the productivity of software engineers.
He heard about the Go Code event through other people in the tech community.
“It seemed like a great way to spend a weekend,” he said.
The Southwest Innovation Corridor, a grant-funded organization, paid for an event organizer for Go Code in Durango to keep the event in town. The other coding weekends happened in Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction.
Eighteen people, who made up four teams, attended the event, which is the most participation Durango has had, said Bailey Lammon, the Durango Community Organizer.
One of the teams came from Western State Colorado University to participate, she said.
She is confident the event will be back next year after this year’s good turnout.