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UNF alumnus plans app to merge best parts of Groupon, Living Social, and Trippit

#IgniteMedia is an independent news bureau that was created, designed and is currently updated by student journalists from the University of North Florida.” This story originally appeared on the #IgniteMedia website, you can read it here.

Curt Bender in his home office. Photo by Heather Rubino, #IgniteMedia writer.

A Jacksonville man who has envisioned a mobile app that could change the way events are planned will be a technology creator at One Spark 2014.

Curt Bender said he has taken the best of Groupon, Living Social and Trippit to arrive at the idea for his One Spark project, “The App.” His prototype allows a person to enter a budget, choose several “Activities” and share the planned “Adventure” on social media sites for friends and family to view and attend.

For example, if people want to plan adventures with friends, this app will allow them to create budgets and choose activities, such as dinner or movies, which conform to their budgets. The app users can then share the event on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media outlets, inviting friends and family electronically. It even allows out-of-town friends to see the itinerary and wish the event creator a fun night out.

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Bender also plans to incorporate an integrated GPS function into the app so it can map out each activity so events run smoothly.

“The point is you can wake up one day and plan your entire date out the same night while still in bed,” said Bender, who graduated from the University of North Florida with a political science degree a year ago.

Although the app has yet to be created, Bender said he hopes to have a prototype developed for visitors to try at One Spark. Because he is not a trained developer, Bender said that he will surround himself with a trusted crew to build the app if he is able to raise the $50,000 he needs at the crowdfunding festival.

The vision behind The App, which he also hopes festival attendees will help him name, is to make it user friendly and very social. He even envisions a “Popular Adventures” page on the app where users could explore different adventures created by others to find suggestions that fit their budgets.

Bender has always been an entrepreneur. He began his first business, a lawn-care service, when he was in ninth grade. Upon graduation from UNF, he began another business while working from home, Pinnacle Cards, a company designed to increase the revenue of local businesses while providing fundraising opportunities to mainly non-profit organizations.

Although he’d planned on attending law school immediately, the draw of his start-up was too great.

“I started Pinnacle Cards in the summer and had to decide on law school or the risks of entrepreneurism,” he explained. “I took the thrill of creating something and choose entrepreneurism.”

Created in Jacksonville in June 2013, Pinnacle Cards produced its first product just five months later. Soon after, in January 2014, Bender enlarged the business to also service Orlando.

While Pinnacle Cards and The App are two separate entities, Bender wanted a way to intertwine the two businesses. That’s why he hopes to advertise The App on every Pinnacle Card with a QR code.

The App will be presented at his venue, Hemming Plaza Jewelers. Bender said he plans to offer a lively atmosphere where spectators and potential investors can interact with a prototype of The App on various devices.

“I have a product, so I’m past the idea stage. I’m more in a validation stage,” Bender said. “I’m trying to build something viral, that’s the goal.”

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