I battle trying to stay informed with today’s societal topics on a daily basis. That includes sports, politics, entertainment, and everything else that encompasses daily talk around friends, family and colleagues. I’ll be the first to say that it’s hard; it’s hard to be knowledgeable in all aspects of current media. The most efficient methods, in my opinion, would have to be Facebook and Twitter.
It’s a direct avenue to what is going on in the world. I don’t need to watch the news because everything can be condensed into one video, or article, or meme – all biases aside of course. Plus, It gives us the ability to counteract opinions or statements that might not be seen as valid from our perspective. But nonetheless, the content is there. Information is literally at our finger tips.
Coming from an education background, a common ideal is that you can see and be told information numerous times, but until you actually apply the knowledge on your own, it won’t necessarily stay with you cognitively. So what if there was an app that could help keep the common person up to date in all categories of the news? Here’s the kicker; what if said app could also give you the power to predict the outcome of the news?
Well, it’s real. That app is called SiBBiL. Founders Armel Bokam and Mark Ghatan, both NYU grad students, and University of Chicago MBA Frank Monkam, have created an app that centralizes news following of diverse subject matters into one interactive platform where friends can compete with one another on correctly predicting worldwide current events.
The idea came to fruition when the two realized that there wasn’t an app that comprised all subjects of the media for people to interactively compete against one another. “Over the months we started working on a concept and wanted to position a platform for Millennials to stay up to date with what is going on in the world,” Co-founder Mark told me.
Over a phone conversation, Co-founder Armel informed me that when he started playing Fantasy Football on an annual basis, he slowly became more knowledgeable in the game and the players as a whole. The idea of this app started to click upon this realization.
“I thought to myself, what if we applied the same principals to other subjects?” Mark and Armel met at an NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge during a teammate hunt event. “It became apparent that we each had related concepts we wanted to work on, so after we got to know each other a bit, we decided to combine forces and SiBBiL is the result of that.” The app’s design is pretty intuitive. As they are currently in the process of beta testing, both Mark and Armel say that they have about 200 users that engaged with the app. The user feedback has been both positive and insightful.
“We did get comments that made us have to go back and make some changes to the app,” per Armel. Overall, they believe that the questions for the game are critical. “We’ve figured out how to structure questions to make them more interesting,” Mark told me. The two also mentioned that they discovered a lot of people who had no idea about pertinent events happening in America, let alone their own states.You’d be surprised how unaware people are to some important topics happening in the country.
One instance was a general election last year and nobody even knew that it was coming up in a week. The two would attempt to start up a conversation about it but would receive responses like, “I didn’t even know this was going on.” Mark told me that with this insight, it helped them fuel more motivation to include as much current and informative questions to the game as they can.
The goal through all of this for the boys is to “make news following more interesting.” “We want to broaden the horizon and get people interested in things that they’re not normally exposed to,” said Armel. “The end goal is to have a more informed public that is engaged in the things that are really important to their lives.”
The entrepreneurs will also have a prizing scheme in place for the app. Though it is still in the development stage, the team is still working out what those prizes will be, but ideas include Apple watches, video game consoles and trips domestically and internationally. Mark said that they’re “hoping to have special contests including a specific game for the elections.”
The two were thinking about including a charitable component to the contest as well.Both Mark and Armel feel that the journey through creating an app and making it come to life has been “educational to say the least.” Like many entrepreneurs who start from a simple idea, they believe that it is rewarding to see what your efforts can turn into just by simply executing.
“It’s like your baby. Seeing all your hard work come to reality is very fulfilling,” Mark told me. Uninterrupted, he reminisced on the time when the idea was just in a Google Doc. “Going from a Google Doc to an actual tangible product is awesome.” Not only are those things fulfilling to Mark, but Armel thinks that everything he’s learned has been completely invaluable. “You learn a lot. You learn about the process, people, yourself… not giving up is the best feeling.”
Armel sees the apps official launching as a huge success to him, and rightfully so. “But we also hope that we can have thousands of active users a few months after launch.”
Armel gave up some advice at the end of the interview, and contrary to the general, popular belief of starting up your own app, he advises individuals to not do this for the money. “A lot of people may do it for glory or money, but I think the message is don’t do it for glory, do it because you’re passionate about it or solving a need.
If you do it for any other reason, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get through. Make sure that you’re solving a need.”Marks advice for those with an entrepreneurial mindset is consistency. “It’s not easy and you have to keep working at it.” He also mentioned that it is important to always test what you’re working on, especially if your focus is on app creation. “Go at it, learn, change it up and keep going,” Mark proclaimed.
With both of the boys having substantial backgrounds and experience, the two feel as though they could certainly find positions in the corporate industry. But their plans are set higher than just that.” You hear stories of people who don’t have a degree and create great products. This is the mindset Mark and I have. We want to change the way Millennials engage with news and we won’t let anything distract us. It takes time, but I think for us, every penny was worth it,” Armel told me.
“You don’t have to start and invest a huge amount of money or quit your job, but start in small blocks,” Mark added. With the release of the app approaching quickly, only time will tell for the two and the success of the app. Please be sure to download the app at the link below:
App Download Here:http://sibbil.appstor.io/
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