It’s movie night and hearing, “ what are we going to watch?” can cause major stress when trying to select a film to watch with friends. Choosing a movie can be difficult for many reasons, from different genre preferences to multiple streaming services from which to choose.
In an effort to make the process smooth and easy, computer science alumnus Luis Irizarry ’13 came up with an app that uses the swipe right/swipe left technique like those in dating apps to help with the movie decision process. He developed the app with the help of StartUP FIU’s Proof of Concept program and named it Squadflick.
The app works in three simple steps. The organizer of the movie night opens the app and selects the person or persons with which they are watching the movie. Then, each person picks two movie genres they’d like to watch. Through an algorithm, the app selects 10 films based on everyone’s genre votes. The selection process is similar to the popular Tinder app, where a user swipes right if they like someone or swipes left if they don’t like. If someone in the group has already seen a movie, they can click a button that says, “I saw it,” and another movie option will populate. Everyone votes yes or no on 10 movies and after voting, the winning movie is revealed.
“When I first created a prototype of the app, I showed it to my friends, and they said it didn’t work,” said Irizarry, who graduated with a bachelor’s in computer science and a minor in business and mathematics in fall 2013. “Through StartUP FIU and learning things on my own, I was able to take the feedback and use it to develop the app with an efficient user interface experience.”
Irizarry pursued computer science at College of Engineering & Computing’s School of Computing & Information Sciences (SCIS) while employed as a student assistant for FIU’s College of Business, working in the Professional Bachelor’s in Business Administration program. After graduating, he worked as a software engineer for several years at a software company, electric company and an internet advertising company.
In 2018, Irizarry took a leap of faith. He quit his secure full-time job to become a freelance software engineer and follow his entrepreneur spirit. Simultaneously, he received an email from StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative to foster innovation and entrepreneurship within students, alumni and faculty. He was intrigued by their Proof of Concept Studio, a six-week program where participants bring their business idea to life. Irizarry applied and got in, not knowing how essential this program would be for the idea he had in mind.
The program helped Irizarry redefine and validate his idea. The first cohort of 20 participants, which Irizarry was a part of, met every Thursday for six consecutive weeks to present their ideas and receive early customer feedback. Participants learn to identify customer needs and how to most effectively present their ideas to consumers.
Robert “Bob” Hacker, director of StartUP FIU, was inspired to create StartUP to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the FIU community.
“The Proof of Concept Studio benefits entrepreneurs like Irizarry, in challenging them to identify a real problem that needs a real solution,” said Hacker. “Irizarry brought insight, imagination and creativity with him.”
A self-learner, Irizarry taught himself app development and bought books on IOS to learn how to properly program the app in a mobile operating system.
Irizarry created a Kickstarter campaign to get help from his fans to have the app on the App store for IOS and Google Play for Android. The app will be available on the Apple App store in July and is free to download.