Color turns S. Limestone into Big Blue Tech Lab

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This article appears on page 4 of the April 7 Ace.
 

Nearly 500 articles were written about “Color” when the app launched March 24, making even bigger news when it was announced that the company had secured $41 million in investment funding from Sequoia and Bain. While the app originally drew a lot of criticism, founder Bill Nguyen told Business Insider, those early reviews were “accurate,” explaining, “we did a poor job of telling people ‘don’t use this alone.’” BI clarified that Color “is not about photo sharing. It’s a new way to build spontaneous social networks….Color will be able to detect when a bunch of people are pointing their camera at the same thing — say during a baseball game — and automatically figure out what everybody’s trying to capture. Then it will select the best picture and put it to the top of the photo feeds of people most interested in that image (like fans at the ballpark).” Color identifies nearby smartphones using advanced proximity algorithms. Every image captured by each smartphone through Color is instantly shared with surrounding phones also using the Color app. No attachments. No uploading and downloading. No storage worries.

This was music to the ears of Wes Brooks, president of UK’s Entrepreneurship Club and a materials engineering undergrad, who thought UK’s South Limestone corridor might provide the perfect test case of the technology during the airing of Saturday night’s UK/UConn final four game. He pointed out, “Facebook was started at Harvard University, and they didn’t have the final four nor the most passionate fans in the nation.”


So, he tweeted a public message to Peter Pham (a co-founder, and President of Color), “Color needs to be in Lexington KY NOW. UK has a real chance to win the basketball championship, and Lex is ERUPTING.”

Then the work started. Brooks says, “This weekend, we set up a 9′x16′ LED display in the parking lot of Tin Roof to display a live feed of all the photos that people were taking around S. Limestone using Color before and during the game. We wanted to give people a new way to experience what their friends were seeing and doing around them, a chance for people to get a feel for what the app is about: connecting with each other through photos! We passed out fliers to fans anywhere in the area and tried to get as many people to use the smartphone application as possible to capture the excitement of Big Blue Nation making it to the Final Four.”

How did the test go? Brooks says, “During the course of the afternoon, we were able to capture over 300 photos by 40 different fans, the largest test (to my understanding) of their product to date. Peter Pham, Color’s President, tweeted during the course of the afternoon ‘Now this is a block party in Kentucky! Wish I was there w/ @WesGBrooks http://color.com/s/7hXRYGY,’ which was also retweeted by CEO Bill Nguyen and Chief Engineer DJ Patil. Later that night, Peter also posted a tweet saying ‘Bummed UK lost. But damn they know how to party in Kentucky (300 pics by 40 folks) http://bit.ly/ihxldZ ‘ In a comment on one of the last photos in the feed on Color, Peter also made a made the comment, ‘This will still be one of the best examples of Color! Tough beat.’”

Although the game’s outcome broke the hearts of many of the UK fans gathered, Brooks says, “Despite the loss, from my conversations with Indellicato (who flew out to Lexington Friday afternoon for the event along with her husband Marcello), she thought the fact that we were able to pull off such an event in less than five days time was awesome. There were a lot of great stories and examples of the uses for Color that came about this weekend like the first attempted pickup via Color and the first small business use of Color (a t-shirt saleswoman posted a picture of her shirt, the price, and phone number so that anyone using the app could see it on the app and the jumbotron). The hope is that Color will be able to use stories like these and the event as a whole as a way to help explain the concept behind Color through the eyes of Big Blue Nation and Lexington.”

Will this new relationship have any “legs” for Lexington? Brooks hopes so. “At noon on Saturday, some of Lexington’s entrepreneurial and social media circle was invited to eat lunch and network with Lindsey and her husband in an effort to begin building a bridge of resources and communication between Color and Palo Alto with the people of and tech community in Lexington. Over the course of the day, Lindsey was introduced to people like former Mayor Jim Newberry, Warren Nash, the director of the Lexington Innovation and Commercialization Center, Randall Stevens of ArchVision and the IN2LEX leadership team, and others throughout the community.”

He adds, “For me, this was the most exciting part of the weekend–that we were able to connect the Color team with many of the people in the community who helped to make this event happen in such short a time as well as some of the best networkers for this city. My personal hope is that a bridge has begun to be formed between Lexington and Palo Alto, and that in the future, information, and potentially resources, can be shared between both locations.”

For more information on UK E Club’s demonstration of Color, contact Wes Brooks at eclub@uky.edu. E Club is a partner with the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the UK Office for Commercialization and Economic Development. 



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