Technology

This Cal Poly graduate created an app to get you off your phone and out exploring SLO

Brett Foreman thinks people are spending too much time on their phones — so, obviously, he made a phone-based app to fix that.

Kick-it Points is a new iPhone app that rewards users with deals at local businesses when they do activities around San Luis Obispo County — like hiking Bishop Peak or checking in on the Cal Poly campus (think Pokémon Go meets Groupon).

“It's kind of a real-world social app that does different things than Instagram or Facebook, where you're more glued to the phone at home — you're not really incentivized to go out or engage with your community,” Foreman said.

He launched the app in November after graduating from Cal Poly last spring. He said he realized while he was a student that people were spending more time on social media than they were actually out and experiencing things.

“What's really happened is a lot of the technology today has kind of removed the real-world aspect that a lot of us are looking for at the end of the day,” he said “It's like we're so connected that we are connected to nothing because of it. ”

So he taught himself coding and created an app that would encourage people to get off their phones and explore their community.

So far it appears to be working, he said.

“People are loving it,” Foreman said. “They're going with their friends places. I'm looking at the database when I'm working, and these little lights flicker when people are at different locations. And I'm like, 'Oh, someone hiked Madonna for this deal,' or 'Someone did this' — and that's pretty awesome. ”

How does it work?

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Kick-it Points shows users the different types of experiences and deals near them. Kick-it Points

Kick-it Points works in three basic steps, Foreman said, with minimal time spent on your phone:

Find something to do — the app has a map feature that will show activities and deals near you, with details on how to get them.

Do the thing and claim the deal in the app.

Go to whichever business for which the deal applies, and enjoy.

“The app is not something you're glued to,” he said. “You have the phone out for a minute or so, and then you put it back it in your pocket.”

More than 20 local businesses currently offer deals in the app, including Mint+Craft, Woodstock's Pizza, Bull's Tavern and Breakfast Buzz. It has also accrued just more than 2,000 users in the three months since its launch.

Foreman said the app gives businesses a unique way to interact with local people, and at the same time encourages them to frequent their establishment.

It can also give businesses a chance to capitalize off of time-specific events or heavily trafficked areas: For example, during Cal Poly's finals week, several businesses offered deals to students studying at the library.

The app only works on iPhone for now, though Foreman said an Android version is coming soon.

Where did the idea come from?

Kick It05515
Cal Poly graduate Brett Foreman founded a new app called Kick-it Points that rewards users for doing activities with deals to local businesses. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Foreman said he was inspired by the Pokémon Go craze several years ago to create a location-based app that pushed people to get out and socialize with others.

“What was interesting, was it wasn't called a 'social app' or anything — it was just a game,” he said. “A lot of these Pokemon players would go out to someplace just to find Pokemon, but they would sort of serendipitously run into an old friend or someone with the same shoes, and then they'd be grabbing a beer with them the next week.

"So to me, my sort of ah-ha moment I had was that this was more social and more fulfilling than so-called social media apps.”

Another inspiration for Foreman,a four-year member of the Mustangs men's soccer team, were his teammates, he said.

“A lot of times, our diets were dictated by deals going on around town,” he said. “So Tuesdays, we'd be getting be tacos. Wednesday wings, and every other day whatever deal was working there.”

He said he and his teammates were also “experience-driven,” inspiring the “do-this” aspect of the app.

“We'd always follow the activity with going out to eat,” he said, “so that was the cycle I was trying to recreate.”

What's up next?

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Cal Poly graduate Brett Foreman founded a new app called Kick-it Points that rewards users for doing activities with deals to local businesses. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Though he started Kick-it Points as a one-man show, Foreman now has three interns working with him on the app as he expands it to more businesses.

Currently, the participating businesses stretch from Morro Bay to Pismo Beach, but he is constantly adding more, Foreman said.

In the future, he hopes to open it up as a franchise, where the same model can be used in other areas like San Diego or San Francisco, he said.

“We want to first keep it in those areas that know sort of what's going on,” he said. “And we want to also know that it's in a place that's, you know, sort of similar to SLO. Maybe it's a college town to start the buzz and get the hype around it.”

For now, Foreman said he is focusing his efforts on making the local Kick-it Points experience as useful as possible.

“The success for me is even if I get them halfway up Madonna,” he said. “I want them all the way up, of course, but not many apps have the ability to get people to do this sort of thing. So it's been really nice to see people engaging and choosing to do these.”

If you have a local start-up company you would like featured in The Tribune, send your elevator pitch to Kaytlyn Leslie, kleslie@thetribunenews.com, or reach out to her on Twitter (@kaytyleslie) or Facebook (@KaytlynLeslieTribune) using #StartupSpotlight.

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