Tech start-up of the week: Bubble Your TV

5 Apr 20141 Share

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Mossy Kelly (left) and Padraig Hough (right), founders of Bubble Your TV

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Our tech start-up of the week is Bubble Your TV, which provides an easy-to-read summary of TV listings and integrates social elements, including live ratings and chat during broadcast, as well as favourite channel functions.

Bubble Your TV is designed to enhance your TV viewing, making it easy to find what to watch on TV, and enable live interaction with other viewers.

The app is available in the Google Play store for Android devices.

“We have designed Bubble Your TV to be intuitive and easy to use for any age group,” said co-founder Padraig Hough.

“Second-screen TV viewing has been trending upwards recently and even has already become commonplace in today’s multidevice connected world.

“We believe that Bubble Your TV has a huge opportunity to connect people with common interests and improve TV viewing for everyone by making it more fun and interactive. It also saves time for people by helping them find what they would like to watch more efficiently, where we have incorporated a favourite channel function and an optimised view of listings together with unique sort functions.

“This can really help when, for example, you get home from school, work or elsewhere and don’t want to waste time ‘flicking’ through an endless list of channels.

“We are initially launching in Ireland, UK and US but plan for more markets afterwards,” Hough said.

The founders

Hough has a BSc in physics with astrophysics from NUI Maynooth and a PhD in experimental laser plasma physics from Dublin City University (DCU).

He has been working as an analyst in the tech sector for the past four years. Hough has always been an advocate of technology and on a daily basis sees the positive impact of technology and a connected world.

His co-founder Mossy Kelly has a BSc in physics from DCU and a PhD in experimental atomic physics from DCU. Kelly has been working as post-doctoral researcher in the National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology (NCPST) based in DCU for the past year.

Kelly is passionate about learning new skills and pushing into new frontiers and revelled at the challenge of developing Bubble Your TV.

The technology

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“We decided to develop Bubble Your TV with Android,” Hough said. “The efficiency and scale of the Android ecosystem is nothing but impressive. For this reason we made the decision to develop in Android first.

“Moving forward, we believe this will become standard. We eventually hope to have an iOS version but first we will focus on getting Android right. Our next decision was to build in native Android or using a web (HTML5)-based app.

“Both options are appealing but we chose to develop a native app as we thought the experience would be more immersive. Our back-end infrastructure is based on a MySQL and PHP server.”

Hough said the ultimate goal is to see widespread usage of Bubble Your TV.

“Bubble Your TV is designed to make it faster and easier to find what to watch, where people can sort TV listings such as ratings, number of viewers, time remaining, etc. We hope to help connect people with common interests and enable positive debate and discussions.

“If we are helping and connecting people, improving their TV experience, then we are achieving our goals,” Hough said.

Growing pains

As Bubble Your TV moves from development stage to roll out stage, it is undoubtedly an exciting time for the company.

Friends and family had been testing the first version of the app.

Hough said the company is not currently proactively looking to attract investment as there is not a lot of overhead for the infrastructure.

“Right now we are focused on refining our app, customising it for different phones, fine tuning functionality, and also spreading the word to as many people as possible.

“Saying that, the best way to help Bubble Your TV grow is via advertising and so we will be looking for assistance in the future.”

Both Hough and Kelly have been working on the start-up in their spare time while holding down full-time jobs.

In terms of personal challenges, Kelly has a PhD and Hough has a toddler, vying for their spare time. Neither of the pair has a background in computer science, either, so they had to overcome a learning curve to carry out all the app and graphics development themselves.

Motivation

Hough is encouraged by the start-up energy in Ireland today.

“Given the right idea, enthusiasm and drive, there seems to be quite a lot of scope to succeed. There is also a very open and collaborative start-up community in Dublin, which we have already taken advantage of by meeting with people from some other start-ups.

“When morale was low, it was easy to regain motivation by just looking towards the start-up scene where there are so many devoted and motivated individuals pushing the boundaries.

“It’s fantastic to see not only national recognition for this but also, more recently, international recognition where Ireland is often referred to as the European version of Silicon Valley. I have no doubt that over the next 5-10 years, Ireland will be producing the next Google or Facebook.”

Failure is the road to experience

“If you have an idea that you feel passionate about, go for it. Do your research first, be prepared for setbacks, and don’t be afraid to look for advice from people who have been there. Take advantage of the vibrant open Irish start-up culture,” Hough said.

“Finally, most importantly, don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is the road to experience and success.

“In our particular case, we have already learned so much from developing Bubble Your TV. It was a worthwhile adventure even if we never published the app.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com