Nearly every performer worries about a disconnect between artist and audience — but that won’t be a problem with a new app created by a small band of local entrepreneurs designed to increase participation between the two.
The group, which is formed around three central players — Chris Breeze, Sam Miller and Cormac Siegfried — won second place last month at both Colorado Springs Startup Weekend and UCCS’ Lion’s Den Pitch Night for a mobile application called CrowdFire.
CrowdFire is designed to allow disc jockeys and other performers to create light shows by using the app on their phone or tablet to send commands to mobile devices in the audience. Depending on the command, the controller can send a variety of colors and light frequencies throughout the audience, creating a cross between a laser light show and the waving lighters that once filled concert venues.
Miller, a 23-year-old Penn State graduate with a background in engineering, said his experience with live music and attempts at being a disc jockey gave him the idea years ago.
“I had been to a lot of venues, so I thought it would be great if you could incorporate the audience … to the point where they feel they’re involved in the show,” he said.
During that time, CrowdFire remained only a concept in Miller’s mind, until the three founders met at Startup Weekend.
Breeze, a 20-year-old UCCS junior studying computer science, said the team didn’t have to deviate much from Miller’s initial concept. But the idea for the app evolved quickly into something Siegfried called an “amalgamation of all of our thoughts and ideas.”
“We didn’t really have to pivot,” Breeze said. “We had to determine if it was technically feasible and whether an app like that could harness that kind of energy appropriately.
“We think it can.”
Siegfried, a 19-year-old student at Colorado College studying economics and marketing, spent the year between high school and college in Silicon Valley, not far from his hometown of Palo Alto, Calif. Because of his experience in business development, he has been deemed the company’s managing executive partner.
The team also includes designers Andrew Day and Chris Frees and is currently working with a group of advisers on how best to develop and market CrowdFire. They plan to market the product by the end of January, Breeze said.
Once the app is installed on the crowd’s mobile devices, Breeze said it will use a geolocation algorithm to determine relative positioning and distance, optimizing the effectiveness.
“We’ve given a lot of thought to what the user interface will be like,” he said. “It has to be intuitive … and it has to be dynamic to be able to work for each venue.”
He said the soon-to-be patented technology they are using will be able to determine the size and shape of the venue based on location of each mobile device.
The team plans to contract with a local venue to test the app for proof of concept, Breeze said. After that, the team plans to expand to other contract models at venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Fiddler’s Green.
“Once we have brand recognition — it’s a proven concept, people are enjoying it and we’re getting good data analytics — we want to move to a software-as-service model,” Breeze said.
He said at that point the core technology should be applicable to retail, the food industry, photography and the dynamic mapping of certain areas.