Tech start-up of the week: Fishbowl Software Development

5 May 2013

Dave Graham, co-founder and managing director, Fishbowl Software Development

This week’s featured start-up is Fishbowl Software Development, a new Dublin-based venture that has launched its first free smartphone app to enable those who attend meetings or gatherings to capture their conversations and project ideas and set up virtual groups. The fishbowl app is now available on the App Store and on Google Play.

It was 18 months ago that Dave Graham and Jerome O’Flaherty started working on the concept for Fishbowl. Now five people work at the company.

Explaining how the idea for the Fishbowl app came about, Graham says that we all meet people daily in different situations who we like to stay in contact with – be that as part of a team or just socially – and the goal of the app is to carry on conversations afterwards.

Future Human

“It’s trying to capture the spontaneous interaction of people and to make sure that you have another tool to capture things that are meaningful to them,” he says.

Graham, who has 15 years of experience in software development, says he started to notice that opportunities for collaboration and interaction were being lost in both academic and professional settings.

Capturing informal groups

The app, he says, is for people who find themselves in a group that hasn’t been formally organised.

“A conversation, rapport or a common goal emerges and that could be as simple as ‘we have a social event in a week’s time and we want to organise that’.”

The app can capture a group on the spot once people have downloaded it. Graham says that you can always extend that group later on, but it is quite secure as to how you extend it.

The app can be used to capture things such as conversations, situations, contexts or projects, he explains. Part of the app is a ‘fishbowl concept’.

“The analogy with fishbowl is you set up a ‘bowl’ and it broadcasts at your location and you will see that via the user interface,” says Graham. “So, when someone else turns on the app they will see the bowl and they can join it as long as they have the secure password. The bowl is really a symbol for the group,” he says.

Later on, people can invite others into the ‘bowl’ even if they are not at the location.

“The idea is that there is a group of people who are at a location and they just decide on the spur of the moment ‘we would like to capture this group’.”

He says that business associations, academic institutes and conference facilitators are showing interest in the Fishbowl app.

Beyond that, the team at Fishbowl thinks schools and summer camps might be interested in the app because of the immediacy and security aspects of it.

While the app is free, Graham says the plan is to market in-app add-ons as time goes on. Another goal is to create commercial variants of the app.

“We have talked to people in the retail and conference area about some of the ideas that we have. That would be a subscription-based option.”

The plan, he says, is to finish gathering the requirements for the commercial variant of the app and then to work on a pilot to get feedback from target sectors.

Finally, Graham’s advice for other start-ups out there is to never underestimate the value of their own network.

“It’s surprising just how many people you will discover are connected to you who want to help. We have found people to be very generous with their time and expertise,” he says.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic