If all goes to plan, Cody Lucas will have his third app available on the App Store by November.
TravelWeb will let travelers document their trips in real time while creating a keepsake that includes photos and street-level maps that can, at the user’s discretion, be kept private, shared with friends or shared with everyone on the web.
“I hope it brings people closer with their travels,” the George Mason University senior said. “Down the line it might be used as an exploration tool. ‘Where do I want to travel? Let me explore what other people have done.’ ”
Lucas’ other apps—ParkSmart, which locates your car when you can’t recall where it is parked; and Face Paste, which lets you manipulate photos with the faces of celebrities and other accoutrements—have had about 12,000 downloads each, he said. But those were more for fun and experimentation.
TravelWeb might just have some real potential for monetization, as it took second place in April at the annual Dean’s Business Competition and Mobile Game Competition for current and prospective Mason entrepreneurs and innovators.
Lucas won $5,000 in the competition and $1,000 for winning the Audience Choice Award.
“Second place is great because of the money,” Lucas said. “But I might value the Audience Choice Award more, because that means that room full of people thought mine had the most promise.”
“It’s a combination of things people love: travel and pictures,” said David J. Miller, executive director of George Mason’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “That’s half the battle. Are you doing something people care about? So intuitively he’s in the right space.”
Lucas, majoring in information systems and operations management, received technical feedback at the center, brainstormed business models and got marketing advice, all of which he called extremely helpful.
“He’s representative of the students we see coming to Mason, where they are comfortable in multiple realms,” Miller said. “They have one skill, but their interests are broader.’
Lucas conceived of TravelWeb in the summer of 2016, when he traveled to Seattle to visit his grandmother and to, as he said, “do my own thing.”
“My parents, they wanted to know what I was doing,” Lucas said.
Conversations with friends confirmed a broader interest in an app, and Lucas said a Beta version might be ready in July.
“What you do is take photos with your phone and the app extracts the GPS coordinates from those photos,” Lucas said.
Tap on a photo and the app, using Apple Maps, shows down to street detail exactly where the photo was taken.
The app also tracks trips on a global U.S. map centered on the traveler’s hometown. Take enough trips and the highlighted routes “start to look like a web after a while,” Lucas said. “That’s kind of the web in TravelWeb.”