Wednesday Oct 10, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
During the Boston Innovation Challenge Hack-a-thon in May, Matt Bridges, CTO at Intrepid Pursuits, heard a presentation from a local musician. “He could distribute his music on the internet but actually made money from people coming to his shows,” recalls Bridges, who attended the hack-a-thon to help transition from Windows development at his previous job to mobile development. “The musician was frustrated by how hard it was for people to discover his music and shows, even though they might live next door to him in lower Allston. Timbre was a response to that problem.”
Inspired by the theme of “connecting disconnected communities” and the musician’s lament, Bridges spent the weekend developing an iPhone app that would allow people to discover live concerts coming up in nearby venues. The user could click on a band or musician’s name and immediately hear a music clip.
Bridges brought it into work the following Monday, and his coworkers at the Cambridge-based mobile app development company helped develop the concept further. “At the end of two weeks, what we presented was pretty close to what we ended up releasing [in the App Store on September 7],” explains Bridges. “Of course, we spent a good two and a half months refining the user experience, adding features and taking away features, but it was the same kernel of an idea.”
TechCrunch’s coverage of the app’s release last month helped create instant buzz for Intrepid Pursuits and Timbre’s sleek, simple interface. But the real turning point came two weeks later, when Apple featured Timbre in the App Store’s new and noteworthy section the same day it released iOS 6. “Apple featuring Timbre jumpstarted things with very little marketing elbow grease,” says Bridges, who declined to give specific download stats beyond saying, “we’ve gotten to a pretty solid number of downloads.” [Scott Kirsner's recent article reported the downloads at 300-500 per hour]
The app is free, but Bridges says they eventually plan to monetize it. “At this point, it’s all about getting eyeballs,” he adds. Though Timbre is not directly generating revenue yet, it has worked as a portfolio piece for the 22-person company. “People like the way it looks and feels,” says Bridges. “It’s really simple. As advertising for Intrepid, it’s been phenomenal, especially for design work. It has become a thing on its own.”
Staff at Intrepid split their time between project work (about 80 percent of the time) and internal projects like Timbre (the other 20 percent), according to Bridges. “There’s always an idea that somebody in the company is passionate about,” he explains. “I’ve always been passionate about live music.”
In addition to developing apps for a growing roster of clients, Intrepid has three other internal apps in development: a children’s app for ages 2-4, a chess-playing instructional app, and a mobile game called Prime’s Quest. “We’re working to wrap that up by the end of the year,” says Bridges of the latter.