In a city that’s always buzzing with activity, whether it’s an upcoming movie release or restaurant opening, there’s always something to look forward to — or rather, count down to.
Tikr, a social countdown app that connects users with their interests and friends, is a tool that Nick La Maina, a senior majoring in business administration, thought up after coming across a high school friend’s newsfeed on Facebook.
“She would always post [on Facebook] that her birthday is coming up, and she would say something like ‘50 days, 49 days…’ every day,” La Maina recalled. “I wondered why she didn’t just create a countdown, so I started searching countdowns and there was nothing out there that was both user-friendly and also fun. Then I thought how great it would be if people could follow countdowns.”
With this idea in mind, La Maina began to reach out to friends and past co-workers, searching for any valuable players to jump onto his project.
“I reached out to everyone and anyone I could think of. I brought the idea to life with mock-ups and graphics and started networking,” La Maina said. “I got lucky through a mutual friend with Amplify, an accelerator here in Los Angeles, and connected me with a mobile developer who liked the idea.”
La Maina even got a hold of Dallas Mavericks owner and venture capitalist, Mark Cuban.
“I worked on Shark Tank last summer as production assistant and there was this moment — I heard in the lobby that Mark Cuban needed some cookies. I knew which cookies they were because it’s a company he’s invested in so I said I’d do it,” said La Maina. “[Once I met him] I told him there’s a project I’ve been working on for a while, and he gave me his email. Six months later, I reached out to him and he replied back saying he liked it.”
The app, which includes five widgets including an “add countdown” option, is easy to use. Users can create countdowns in which they can add photos to or tag friends. Once the countdown is set up, users can share it via Facebook, Twitter, email or even text.
But if there’s nothing too exciting coming up in a user’s agenda, he or she can discover other countdowns by connecting with interests, companies or friends on the app. So if a new gadget — say, the rumored iPhone 5S — is coming out, a user can follow the Product Releases feed or follow a friend’s iPhone 5S countdown.
La Maina also has Tikr mapped out for brands and celebrities, where social countdowns can be created and users can follow the brand or celebrity within the app and share new content through social media.
So far, the featured feeds on Tikr include the USC Academic Calendar and Silicon Beach LA (a calender of events for start ups in the area), but La Maina is hoping to accrue more content and notable names.
“The next step in development is content partnerships,” La Maina said. “We’re hoping to do some test Tikrs with Sony in the next month.”
Between networking and perfecting the app, La Maina continues to take advantage of all the school’s resources before he graduates in the spring.
“I’m in an entrepreneurship class, and it goes hand in hand,” La Maina said. “Part of those assignments are networking, and I’ve built a good relationship with my professor who’s become a mentor throughout the process.”
In the transition from full-time student to full-time entrepreneur, La Maina has taken away important lessons on how to foster success.
“Start [as] early as you can, as fast as you can. … There are 30,000 people here, so take advantage of it while you can because it’s really helpful,” he said. “Get a mentor too, someone who’s been doing it, so they can help you. There are a lot of cool opportunities on campus.”
And even though he’s graduating soon, La Maina still hopes to tap into the Trojan network for as long as possible. He’s even looking to hire a USC student soon.
“Currently, I’m looking for a new engineer or Viterbi student,” La Maina said. “It would be a great opportunity for a student to get on board a project that is already live.”
If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, perhaps it’s about “time” you did.
Correction: A previous version stated that Dallas Mavericks owner and venture capitalist Mark Cuban serves as an advisor for Tikr. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.