Pine-Richland teens design 'Travel Time' app
Considering the everyday worries of a high school student, certain things probably come to mind: what to do on a Friday night, maybe, or getting ready for the SATs and college campus visits.
Pine-Richland High School junior Arjan Guglani and sophomore Justin Waltrip have other concerns these days, however, after publishing their app “Travel Time” through the Apple store at the end of October.
“Several times I've gotten a phone call from someone and had to walk out of class because I had to answer it,” Guglani said. “Some teachers are really supportive, but some aren't. It's extremely difficult. Do I study for this math test or fix this bug I have to solve for my users?”
The tagline for the app is “Travel Made Easy” and its key features tell users when to leave for the airport using live traffic data and security wait times, connection time alerts, gate information and airport maps for getting to the next flight on time and Travel Time OnGuard, which provides alerts to family and friends. The app is free, or, to unlock additional features, users can subscribe for one year for $4.99 or three months for $2.99.
Guglani got the idea for the app a little over a year ago. His whole family travels internationally regularly, he said, so he had experience in navigating airports, and when he got “pretty bored” during Christmas break last year he started learning how to build an app to make the process less stressful.
The app earned first place at the 2017 Regional High School Computer Fair and third place at the 2017 Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair. Afterward, Guglani continued to develop it for release commercially and enlisted Waltrip, whom he met two years ago in math class, to help with design, marketing and other aspects of the business.
“Besides the obvious technical challenges, I had to learn how to code at a production scale so that thousands of users can use it,” said Guglani, whose interest in coding comes from a desire to solve problems. “Then we had to learn how to run an app business and how to market the app, and we had to get approved by Apple, so we had to deal with a large corporation and talk to engineers and support staff. It was a really steep learning curve.”
The process nearly frustrated Guglani into giving up, he said, but he credits Waltrip for helping him stay positive and see it through.
“After we submitted it to Apple we expected approval in a few days,” said Waltrip. “That certainly is not what happened. We got denied the first time, and they sent a big, big email with a list full of things they wanted fixed. We fixed them, then they sent us another long list of things. The entire process took almost two months to get it finished and we thought it would take two days.”
Guglani and Waltrip currently have three partners out of San Francisco helping with feedback, marketing and other aspects of the business and contracts with airport service providers to sell transportation, lounges and food in over 1,000 airports in 20 countries. They also have interest from a New York venture capital firm.
For now, Guglani said, they're focused on gathering feedback and will spend the next two months working on a few version of the app, which needs constant monitoring and improvements to stay useful and relevant to consumers.
“After that, I think I'll be making a decision if I want to continue with other ventures, or just be a high school student,” Guglani said.
Karen Price is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.