Like most college students, I found that there was a lot of free or unused time in a typical day.
In between the classes, sports, club meetings, and meals spread throughout the day, there were multiple intervals of unscheduled time ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours.
I wanted to create something that would help students accomplish something meaningful in these chunks of free time (rather than browse Facebook or play Candy Crush).
You have 45 minutes till your next class? Here are 10 things to do in 45 minutes based on your location, interests, etc.
That was a big idea
In developing this larger idea, I came across a smaller one that would help more people and be easier for four college students to build.
Small time chunks, more users
College students are unique in that they have large chunks of free time. However, most working adults and teens have smaller bits of free time in the 1-20 minute range.
Two more hours in a day
These small time chunks add up to about two hours in a waking-day, usually spent doing nothing. People are busy. Giving busy people two more hours of productivity in their day felt like a solution worth chasing.
The 24 hour prototype
So for a hackathon, I organized a team to build an iphone app where you would enter in the amount of time you had, and the app would show you articles that would take that relative amount of time to read.
Challenge of serving relevant content
The primary challenge we encountered when beta-testing Spare was that it’s “cool” to serve up articles based on time, but if that content isn’t more interesting or relevant than Twitter’s or Facebook’s, then nobody will use the app. Our potential pivot was to pull content from your Facebook/Twitter feed and filter it by time.