By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Frustration with failed attempts to use social media, texting and email to schedule pick-up basketball and soccer games led Oak Ridge native Arshene Baigvand to find a more workable solution.
The result of his collaboration with three other students at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is a new app named Pick Up & Play that is now available for both iOS and Android versions on the AppStore and Google Play sites respectively. It was released in early September shortly after Labor Day. You can find the iTunes version here.
“We want to break down the barriers that keep people from connecting and bring people together to play,” Baigvand told us. He’s Chief Executive Officer of the start-up, while Dakota Cowell, a Kingston native, and Caleb Mitcler, a Northeast Tennessee native, are Co-Founders who helped develop the apps.
Ironically, all three were competitors in ETSU’s inaugural Innovative Buccaneer Competition for Students (iBUCS) held in April. Baigvand’s idea captured first place and $5,000, while Cowell came in second. They have since joined forces with Mitcler to advance Pick Up & Play.
Baigvand told us that he started thinking about finding a solution after being frustrated by how much time and effort it took to organize or find a game.
“I thought maybe an app would be the answer,” he said.
After studying abroad in Thailand during fall semester 2016, Baigvand says he heard about the iBUCS competition and decided to compete. They developed the app and tested it personally on different devices and computers. Now that the app is publicly available for free, the colleagues have both short- and longer term goals.
“For the next few months, we will focus on ETSU and the surrounding region,” Baigvand explained of the target geographic market. “Right now, we are trying to create a user base.” That translates into getting individuals to download the app, use it, and report any problems.
Once they’ve hit their milestones at ETSU, the Pick Up & Play team has bigger plans. They’ll be expanding to other colleges, adding recreational centers as a new target, and soliciting sponsors and advertisers.
“We believe rec centers could use it as a tool to help rent space and organize the use of their facilities,” Baigvand said.
The app is free to download and use, and it currently supports users wanting to find pick-up games in basketball, soccer, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, disc golf, and tennis.
The iBUCS competition was sponsored by ETSU’s College of Business and Technology.