(Photo by Flickr user Kaptain Kobold, used under a Creative Commons license)
A crew of four Penn students went from PennApps to TechCrunch to Nest in just a few months.
Ben Hsu, Ajay Patel, Alex Sands and Gagan Gupta — all freshmen at the time — built a Siri hack at PennApps Spring 2014 and won second place. Their tool, GoogolPlex, lets users use the iPhone voice-command tool to do things like open Spotify and control a Nest thermostat.
The team isn’t working on GoogolPlex anymore. They saw it more as a hack, rather than viable business idea, Hsu said. But something else came out of all the buzz: Nest, the Silicon Valley-based home automation company, recruited all four of the them. They’re working there now.
The team also used to run a startup called LoudCrowd, an app for professors to gauge student comprehension. They completed the eight-week PennApps Accelerator with their startup last spring but have since shut the startup down because they “thought the market wasn’t ready,” Hsu said.