Arizona Technology and Innovation: Local App Competition

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The winner of the city of Phoenix’s “Smart City Hack” will be announced October 21. That finalist will go to the international Smart City Hack competition, “which seeks to turn citizens into solutions builders, empowering them to develop functioning technology products that solve pressing civic challenges.” We’ll talk with Dominic Papa, founder of the Institute for Digital Progress, who will give us an overview of the competition along with a Jedidiah Woods, chief operations officer and co-founder of the winning company, Storage Together, which connects those who need to store something with those with room to store it.

TED SIMONS: TONIGHT'S EDITION OF ARIZONA TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION LOOKS AT THE CITY OF PHOENIX'S SMART CITY HACK, A COMPETITION THAT TURNS CITIZENS INTO SOLUTION BUILDERS BY DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS THAT SOLVE PRESSING CIVIC CHALLENGES. HERE NOW TO TELL US MORE ABOUT THE COMPETITION IS DOMINIC PAPA FOUNDER OF THE INSTITUTE FOR DIGITAL PROCESS AND JEDEDIAH WOODS, CO-FOUNDER OF STORAGE TOGETHER, THE COMPANY THAT WOUND UP WINNING THE PHOENIX SMART CITY HACK. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. GIVE US A BETTER DEFINITION OF THE SMART CITY HACK.

DOMINIC PAPA: IT'S AN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION THAT CHALLENGES ENTREPRENEURS TO DEVELOP TECH PRODUCTS THAT COULD EITHER MAKE OUR GOVERNMENT MORE EFFICIENT OR IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR CITIZENS IN OUR CITIES.

TED SIMONS: THE CITY OF PHOENIX SMART CITY HACK, IS IT JUST FOR PHOENIX ONLY? WAS IT VALLEY WIDE?

DOMINIC PAPA: IT WAS VALLEY WIDE. WE LABELED IT AS THE CITY OF PHOENIX. IT'S BEEN THE DRIVER BEHIND THIS INITIATIVE. WHAT HAPPENS NOW, THE CITY OF PHOENIX BECAME INVOLVED WITH A GLOBAL NETWORK OF SMART CITIES SUCH AS BARCELONA, DUBAI, HELSINKI. WE RAN THE LOCAL COMPETITION FOR THE CITY OF PHOENIX.

TED SIMONS: THE WINNER OF THE LOCAL COMPETITION WAS CALLED STORAGE TOGETHER. ENTER JEDEDIAH. WHAT IS STORAGE TOGETHER?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: IT'S A SHARE MARKET BUSINESS THAT AIMS AT BRINGING PEOPLE WITH EXTRA SPACE IN THEIR HOMES AND GARAGES AND CONNECTING THEM WITH PEOPLE SEEKING STORAGE. IT BYPASSES THE STORAGE UNIT SYSTEM THAT'S ALREADY IN PLACE. AND WE BRING MONEY BACK TO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH HOSTS, MAKING MONEY.

TED SIMONS: SO I'VE GOT TOO MUCH STUFF. I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH PLACE TO PUT IT. HOW DOES THIS WORK?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: WE ALLOW PEOPLE ALREADY IN THE COMMUNITY WHO ALREADY HAVE EXISTING SPACE IN THEIR HOMES OR GARAGES OR EVEN YARDS TO STORE YOUR STUFF AND MAKE AN EXTRA BUCK WHILE DOING IT AND SAVING THE OTHER PERSON MONEY.

TED SIMONS: AM I HEARING LIKE AN UBER KIND OF THING?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: THE SHARE MARKET IS WHAT WE'RE LEANING INTO. THE STORAGE INDUSTRY HAS NOT BEEN DISRUPTED FOR MANY YEARS. WE SEEK TO BRING THAT MORE PERSONAL FEEL THAT THE MILLENNIAL WAVE IS BRINGING.

TED SIMONS: THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE KIND OF THING -- I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S A PRESSING CIVIC ISSUE. IF YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF, IT'S A PRETTY BIG ISSUE. IS THIS THE KIND OF STUFF THE HACK COMPETITION WAS LOOKING AT?

DOMINIC PAPA: ANYTHING THAT COULD MAKE OUR QUALITY OF LIFE BETTER. BY CONNECTING PEOPLE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY, THROUGH THIS DISRUPTION IS WHAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR.

TED SIMONS: TALK ABOUT THE COMPETITION AND HOW PRESENTERS HAD TO PRESENT THEMSELVES AND THEIR PRODUCTS.

DOMINIC PAPA: THE COMPETITION OCCURRED LAST FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE ORPHEUM THEATRE. EACH TEAM GOT FIVE MINUTES AND WERE THEN ASKED A SERIES OF QUESTIONS FROM THE PANEL OF JUDGES AND THE AUDIENCE. ULTIMATELY THE JUDGES SCORED THEM AND THEN THERE WAS A LIVE PUBLIC VOTE KIND OF LIKE "AMERICAN IDOL" AND ULTIMATELY, STORAGE TOGETHER WAS DETERMINED OUR 2016 CHAMPIONS.

TED SIMONS: WHEN YOU MADE THE PRESENTATION, HOW DID YOU SELL IT?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: PASSION. THAT'S ONE THING ALL THE COFOUNDERS BRING AND THAT PASSION DRIVES US REALLY FAR. WE ALSO HAVE A LOT -- WE'VE BEEN DOING IT SINCE FEBRUARY SO WE HAVE A LOT OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE INDUSTRY AND IN THE PROCESS OF DOING IT. SO BRINGING THAT PASSION WITH A YEAR'S WORTH OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS PARTICULAR ENDEAVOUR REALLY HELPED US DO THAT.

TED SIMONS: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH IDEA?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: IT WAS ONE OF OUR COFOUNDER LUCA MARGO'S IDEA. WE'RE ALL OUT OF STATE AS COLLEGE STUDENTS. WE FIND THAT WHEN WE LEAVE FOR THE SUMMER WE NEED PLACES TO STORE OUR STUFF. WE DIDN'T LIKE THE COLD CORPORATE FEEL OF THE NORMAL STORAGE. SO WE THINK OF A WAY THAT WE CAN CONNECT PEOPLE BUT ALSO SAVE MONEY AND ALLOW PEOPLE TO MAKE MONEY THROUGH IT.

TED SIMONS: IS STORAGE TOGETHER NOW MAKING MONEY ITSELF?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: WE HAD AN ALPHA TEST THIS PAST SUMMER AND WE'RE SEEKING THIS NEXT SPRING TO TRULY LAUNCH. WE'RE GOING TO START ON OUR SCHOOL'S CAMPUS GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY AND START WITH A CONTROLLED BETA TEST SO WE CAN INSURE PRODUCT QUALITY, CONSUMER HAPPINESS AND THINGS LIKE THAT. AND THEN LORD WILLING NEXT FALL, WE CAN SEEK TO INCORPORATE IN ALL THE SCHOOLS IN ARIZONA AND THEN SEEK OUT TO THE PUBLIC TO HELP THEM OUT. WE WANT TO MAKE QUALITY ASSURANCE.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE COMPETITION IS CONCERNED, I CAN COME UP WITH A PIE IN THE SKY AS WELL AS ANYONE. HOW APPLICABLE DO THESE THINGS HAVE TO BE?

DOMINIC PAPA: THEY HAVE TO BE PRETTY APPLICABLE. THEY HAVE TO HAVE A VIABLE PRODUCT. IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT CAN STAND ALONE AND TESTED. AND SO THAT WAY WE'RE REALLY ENSURING THAT WE'RE NOT, YOU KNOW, JUST SHOOTING FOR PIPE DREAMS. WE'RE DEVELOPING BUSINESSES AND START-UPS THAT THEN BRING JOBS TO OUR CITY. WE MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A MINIMAL VIABLE PRODUCT.

TED SIMONS: AND NOT ONLY THAT, THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. IT ACHIEVES WHAT THE GOAL OF THE COMPETITION IS.

DOMINIC PAPA: CORRECT. THE POTENTIAL FOR IMPACT IS HUGE. WHAT WE DO WITH THIS COMPETITION IS GIVE LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS THE PLATFORM TO CHANGE CITIES ON A GLOBAL SCALE. IT'S TERRIFIC AND EXCITING TO SEE LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS TO SUCCEED.

TED SIMONS: THE WINNERS WILL GO TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION, CORRECT?

DOMINIC PAPA: CORRECT. THEY'LL GO TO BARCELONA IN LESS THAN A MONTH WHERE THEY WILL FACE OFF AGAINST CITIES ALL AROUND THE WORLD.

TED SIMONS: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: IT'S EXCITING, IT'S AN HONOR, IT'S A BLESSING. THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ON AN INTERNATIONAL STAGE IS NOT SOMETHING EVERY AVERAGE COLLEGE STUDENT COMPANY CAN SAY THEY'VE DONE. IT'S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY AND I HOPE WE USE IT WELL.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU HAVE OTHER IDEAS IN THE PIPELINE HERE?

JEDEDIAH WOODS: AS ENTREPRENEURS, WE'RE ALWAYS THINKING OF WAYS TO HELP PEOPLE AND HELP OUR COMMUNITY SPECIFICALLY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IF THEY COME BACK NEXT YEAR AND HAVE A GOOD IDEA? CAN THEY WIN TWO TIMES IN A ROW?

DOMINIC PAPA: THE MORE IDEAS THE BETTER WE CAN MAKE THE COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: SMART CITY HACK. IT SOUNDS GREAT. IT'S THE PERFECT IDEA. JUST GET FOLKS OUT THERE DOING GOOD THINGS AND COMPETING FOR IT IN THE PROCESS. CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU. GOOD LUCK IN BARCELONA. WE'LL BE ROOTING FOR YOU.

JEDEDIAH WOODS: ALL RIGHT.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU BOTH. WEDNESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" IS HISTORICALLY REPUBLICAN ARIZONA ABOUT TO TURN BLUE? WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT. WE'LL HEAR ABOUT A PUSH TO GET SEEDS FROM FOODS INTO THE HANDS OF LOCAL GARDENERS AND MARKET FARMERS. THAT'S TOMORROW ON "ARIZONA HORIZON." REMINDER IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE TONIGHT'S SHOW AGAIN, MAYBE SEE SOME PAST EDITIONS, SEE WHAT WE HAVE IN THE FUTURE, CHECK US OUT ON THE WEB. AZPBS.ORG/HORIZON. THAT'S IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANKS FOR JOINING US AND HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND. HAVE A GREAT EVENING, NOT A GREAT WEEKEND.

Dominic Papa: founder, Institute for Digital Progress; Jedediah Woods: Co-founder of Storage Together

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