New App with NC State Jenkins MBA Ties Makes Debut at Durham’s CenterFest Arts Festival

Participants in downtown Durham’s 2012 CenterFest Arts Festival, scheduled for September 15 and 16, can explore local history and culture by tapping into a new mobile app for Apple and Android phones that makes its debut at this event.

Developed by Wanderful, a startup with ties to the Jenkins MBA program in NC State’s Poole College of Management and the College of Engineering, the new app also will provide a mobile experience for festival participants.

Mark Kelley, a third-year student in the Jenkins MBA part-time program in the entrepreneurship and technology commercialization concentration, is part of the new company that got its start during the Triangle Startup Weekend on NC State’s Centennial Campus in April 2012. It received second place in the event’s technology competition, and currently is based in the Groundwork Labs startup accelerator in Durham, N.C.

Kelley said the app and website are designed to enhance the exploration and sharing of local history and culture. The platform connects users, content providers, and organizations within a virtual environment based on high-quality data, which may be historical or current.

Wanderful is working with the Museum of Durham History and the Durham Arts Council, with historical and cultural content being provided by OpenDurham.org, a highly interlinked archive of information about people, places and history in Durham, and by TriangleWiki.org, a free, openly-editable, community-centric website for local history, media, and opinions.

“The initial idea for the application came from the Museum of Durham History and a co-founder, Todd Mosier, who now leads our startup team,” Kelley said. “The museum wanted a technology that could help Durham citizens engage and explore the history and culture that surrounds them. Todd pitched the idea at Triangle Startup Weekend.

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in history from NC State in 2008, the project immediately interested me and I joined the team.”

Kelley is now responsible for cultivating client and partner relationships, as well as leading efforts to commercialize Wanderful.

“We’ve identified some promising B2B and B2C market opportunities for Wanderful, and we’ve just applied for an NC Idea grant for initial seed funding to pursue at least one market,” he said.

Also on the Wanderful team are Aaron Averill, an NC State graduate student in computer science, who has significant responsibilities for web and API development. Carl Licata, who received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from NC State in 2011, contributes heavily to mobile application development. The other two co-founders,
Todd Mosier and Norm Santos, are professional developers in the Triangle.

Kelley said he got involved with the startup team that eventually became Wanderful through the Triangle Startup Weekend.

“In that competition, we had about 36 hours to conceptualize and launch a startup,” he said. “Following a successful finish in the competition, in which we had the help of at least one NC State computer science undergraduate, Erick Gallegos, several of us on the team decided to commit to Wanderful. We started meeting regularly in one of the cofounder’s kitchens, but soon moved to Groundwork Labs startup accelerator in the American Underground.”

The competition is one example of the real world application that Kelley said drew him to “choose the Jenkins’ MBA over other MBA programs in the Triangle area. When I started the program, I was marketing manager for an industrial boiler company, but I left my job after the first year of the program to start my own marketing business – ProTrack Marketing – and join the thriving entrepreneurial community in the Triangle. “

His marketing company “helps support my startup endeavors and gives me the schedule flexibility to meet Wanderful clients and partners as needed.”

Kelley said he “chose the entrepreneurship and technology commercialization concentration (in the Jenkins MBA program) because it epitomizes the real-world application of knowledge stressed by the Jenkins’ MBA. In the concentration, we’re challenged to not only solve problems for outside companies, but to launch our own companies.”

The Wanderful mobile application is available for free download in the Apple store and Android market. The Wanderful mobile and web applications are both available at the company’s website.

For additional information about Wanderful, contact Kelley by phone at 919.368.2748 or by email.

Photo

In the photo are Mark Kelley, third-year student in Poole College’s Jenkins MBA program; Carl Licata, a 2011 computer science graduate from NC State’s College of Engineering; and Aaron Averill, a College of Engineering master’s degree student, graduating in December 2012.

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