Dubliner’s surfing app makes waves in Canada

22 Nov 2011

Young Dublin entrepreneur Shane Janssens created the Walter The Wandering Wave character in a book series for children to share with them about the magic the ocean has to offer. He has also developed an interactive app to complement his Walter book series

Young Dublin entrepreneur Shane Janssens has created a mobile app that topped the bill in the Apple iTunes Store in both Canada and Ireland. The app is based on his cartoon book character Walter the Wandering Wave, created to teach children all about the ocean.

Just three days after its launch, the app landed in the No 1 spot for the Mobile App version of Walter The Wandering Wave in Apple’s iTunes Store earlier this year.

Janssens said he came up with the character Walter the Wandering Wave soon after his arrival in Canada as a direct result of his passion for surfing. He then set up his own publishing company, Belly of Fire Publishing, to build upon his Walter character.

He said the idea for Walter came about as he wanted to teach children about waves and where they come from, but also to teach them to appreciate the ocean.

After the first Walter book was published, Janssens immediately followed suit with an animated and interactive app.

In the first three days of being released in the iTunes store, the Walter app was featured as No 1 in “New and Noteworthy” apps under books. It also hit No 1 in the Irish app store and the top 10 in the Canadian App Store under “Paid Apps”.

Francis Fitzpatrick, co-creator of the seven-time Emmy Award-winning series Jakers! has even endorsed the Walter character: “Walter is an engaging character and a big hit in our house.”

West of Ireland coastline

For more than 10 years, Janssens has been surfing off the west of Ireland coastline, which boasts some of the world’s best conditions for wave lovers – think of Strandhill in Co Sligo and the beaches near Bundoran in Co Donegal.

Janssens said he has always wanted to share with children the mystery of the ocean and its waves and to also teach them how waves reach land.

“I came up with a concept for a wave character called Walter the Wandering Wave who is created in a storm with all the other waves. Walter feels different from the other waves in the sea and decides he has to learn more about himself. So Walter goes on an adventure to find land and discovers that its great to be different. My idea was if waves could talk what amazing adventures they would share with us and what great friends they would meet along the way.”

Janssens first wrote the book and published it with his now-business partner Adam Wood who he said has played a “massive” part in bringing Walter to where he is today.

Belly Of Fire Publishing also specialises in developing interactive apps.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic