Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Students create app to make shared living simpler

Champers Fu
Salette Rios (left), Philip Baek (middle), Mario Hernandez (right) who make up part of the team behind the BoBo app pose for a portrait at the GDC on Tuesday. The BoBo App developed by students at UT helps roommates manage their relations.

Navigating the maze of shared living spaces can mean tiptoeing around awkward conversations about piles of dirty dishes and who will take out the trash. As a solution, a group of college students created a startup app to dissolve tension and find ease in communal living.

BoBo streamlines chore delegation among roommates, providing reminders to complete assigned tasks. Currently in its beta phase, the App Store and Google Play Store recently approved the app. Its official launch is scheduled for this August.

“Especially for our digital generation, it’s uncomfortable to bring up those topics,” said Phillip Baek, biomedical engineering junior and BoBo co-founder. “It can lead to tension and passive aggressiveness where people end up fighting.”

Baek said he came up with the idea for BoBo after experiences where he did all the chores in his living space. After finding there wasn’t already an app on the market, he brought the idea to his co-founder Liam McBride, a computer engineering student at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. 

“Before I started this project, I had no background in mobile application development,” Baek said. “With resources like YouTube, I was able to learn everything from scratch and started coding with my co-founder.”

Mario Hernandez, business freshman and operations manager, and Baek came up with the idea to sell food on Speedway as a way to promote the app to students. After that, the team sold espiropapas, fried spiral potatoes on a stick. 

“While people are waiting for their potatoes, or if (they) want to sample we let them know they have to scan a survey to get it, which is nothing crazy,” Hernandez said. “And we tell them about the app (while they wait).”

Salette Rios, speech-language-hearing sciences senior and marketing director, came up with the idea to conduct interviews on Speedway with a makeshift microphone made from a potato with a face drawn on. 

“The marketing aspect and being involved with the startup has not only allowed us to communicate with people, but really create an app that’s valuable to them as something they would use,” Rios said.

Rios met Baek and Hernandez in the fall section of the Longhorn Startup course, where students learn how to start their own companies and have the opportunity to pitch ideas. During the spring, students work with entrepreneurs and resources from the startup accelerator and co-working space Capital Factory.

“A great thing about the potato business is that we’re out there four or five hours pitching the company, so I’ve pitched it at least 800 times by now,” Baek said. “It helps during events because we’re so practiced.”

Through Longhorn Startup, BoBo had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to students, faculty and entrepreneurs at Demo Day and South By Southwest this past year. 

“Longhorn Startup is what got us involved,” Rios said. “It’s a great resource I wish I had known about sooner.”

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