A little over a year after graduating from Lehigh, Tyler Costantino, ’14, a small business management and entrepreneurship major, and Alex Ratner, ’14, a computer science and business major, had an idea to develop the first “night-work,” or nightlife network application. The Brown and White sat down with the co-founders to talk about their app called Rally.
How would you describe the Rally app?
Alex Ratner: Rally is essentially a network dedicated exclusively to the night. So it helps people plan, share and relive what happened last night in a way that they never could before. We always found it difficult in school and especially after school to figure out who was available tonight in an easy way without having to text everybody or message a huge GroupMe that people don’t respond to. So we simplified it and essentially turned it into a friend list kind of thing. So you can set a color to say if you’re available tonight without having to text anybody. I can go on my friends list and see who is available just by looking at the color-coded statuses and see what they want to do with a few hashtags. So there’s no more texting or messaging through groups anymore. It’s a way to plan your night easier than ever.
When and how did you get the idea for Rally and decide to start developing?
AR: Late my senior year, I kind of came up with a concept and just drew up a simple interface for it to get an idea of what it could look like. So I brought that over to Tyler and he loved it. And since then —
Tyler Costantino: It’s evolved a lot.
AR: November of last year… we refined it, we changed a lot just to get to where we are today.
How did you go about the creation and development of Rally?
TC: We basically did all of the concepting and story boarding on our end. We kind of started this with the goal of making it for the LAUNCH festival in San Francisco, which is this huge startup festival, and we wanted to just be able to show it off on stage there, which we didn’t know we were actually going to be able to do at the time, but we did end up getting to do that. But for the hardcore development portion of it, we contracted with a firm based out of Toronto, with offices in Canada and Istanbul, and just worked closely with them on a day-to-day basis to get done what needed to get done.
AR: We arranged to get our own development team from Toronto.
TC: Because we wanted to get it out there quick because it is a generally unconquered space. There’s not a lot of big night-life apps. I think in the next year or two there will be a Facebook type app in that space, so we didn’t want to waste any time.
How did having different majors, and studying different things, help you launch Rally?
TC: I think it’s great to have people on both sides of the aisle because luckily Lehigh really prepares you to manage these responsibilities. It is a lot of work, the small business and management major, but the business school is definitely helpful. And then having Alex have a computer science background made the technical stuff a lot easier, because I don’t necessarily understand all that. It’s great to have someone who gets that whole entire side of the business.
AR: I think school did a good job of preparing us for something like this.
TC: It’s all on the go.
AR: It’s all on the go and there’s nothing that prepares you for what’s in store so you have to be ready to adjust and you have to be ready for a lot of negative feedback and for things not to go your way. That’s not really stuff that school can prepare you for, but keeping up to date on how other companies are doing and getting in contact with other really cool companies has helped us significantly.
TC: And I think it also, from a Lehigh perspective, gives you the confidence to kind of take the leap and do this. Alex had a job in New York and I was about to start at PricewaterhouseCoopers and we were just kind of like, “Screw it. Let’s try to do something really fun that we both enjoy. We’re young we still don’t have a lot of responsibilities so it’s probably the best time to try something like this.”
What is one piece of advice you’d give to students who want to develop an app?
AR: I would say think it all the way through. If you’re really interested in doing it. I mean, I see a lot of friends will send us some idea that is just so half-assed. If you really want to make that push you just have to really think through all the different variables and take a lot of time to (get) the ideas down and have it ready to go. We didn’t have to rely on someone else doing all that work that we would have had to pay him $50,000 to do.
TC: Probably also to have a co-founder as well. Trying to handle this all by yourself would be really hard. Given how diverse Lehigh is you could probably find someone to help you with your idea.
AR: Be prepared to work hard because if you don’t do anything, nothing will get done. So it’s up to you to make things happen and don’t rely on other people. Just do a lot of the work yourself.