Alumni launch company, first mobile app
Class of 2003 alumni Erik Ruthrauff, Jason Tully and Sean Carroll celebrated the launch of their first app, "Sing it Say It," this week.
Last year, as Erik Ruthrauff '03 completed his MBA studies at the University of Hong Kong, he and longtime friend Jason Tully '03 resuscitated an old game they used to play during their downtime at work. Ruthrauff fired off an email to Tully with a movie quote and challenged him to name the movie's title. Jason responded, then added a movie quote of his own for Erik to identify.
"I said to Jason, 'You know, this would make a pretty decent app,'" Ruthrauff recalls.
And in that moment, the seeds of Wobbyl, LLC, were sown. Ruthrauff, Tully and fellow Elon graduate Sean Carroll '03 founded the mobile application development company earlier this year. This week, Wobbyl launched its first product on the iOS and Android platforms - Sing It Say It, the app inspired by Ruthrauff and Tully's game.
Configured similarly to the hit game Draw Something, Sing It Say It allows players to record a movie or TV show quote or song lyric, then send it to their friends. The recipients guess the title of the movie, show or song and receive "tickets" for correct answers. A multiplayer mode pits players against each other and the clock, with the fastest correct answer winning the round. Once accrued to a certain level, tickets can be redeemed for additional game features, such as longer recording times and voice modulation capabilities.
Sing It Say It is available as a free, ad-supported version and a 99-cent, ad-free version in the Google Play store for Android devices. The game currently is under review with Apple's App Store.
The app's launch concludes more than four months of work, Ruthrauff estimates.
"It might have taken longer, but we have a really good team in place. And it always helps to have a lawyer on board," he says - referring to himself. He serves as Wobbyl's president and chief legal representative. Tully manages the company's operations from Seoul, South Korea, where he works as an English teacher by day. Carroll handles Wobbyl's marketing and outreach and is director of social media for Sport195 in New York, N.Y.
As they moved Sing It Say It from concept to reality, the trio realized they didn't have the requisite experience in the technological aspects of app development. Using a website called ELance.com, they found a graphic designer in Serbia and a programmer in India, contracting with them to build the app.
"English isn't their first language," Ruthrauff explains. "There were some things lost in translation. We quickly realized after the first few weeks that when dealing with outsourcers, you need to be as specific as possible."
"The freedom and the building something from nothing, just launching your own idea, is really great," Ruthrauff says. "I told Sean and Jason the day we sent in the app that we need to step back and realize this accomplishment and enjoy it."
Enjoyment, however, will be short-lived. The trio hopes Sing It Say It is just one of many products Wobbyl will produce in the coming years.
"We'd like to follow in the footsteps of something like Zynga," Ruthrauff says, referring to the social gaming powerhouse behind FarmVille and other popular apps. "We'd like to grow to create multiple games if we can, then perhaps branch out into something else, such as educational apps. This industry is in its infancy and it's only going to grow - so it's a great place to be."