Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley's Collin Jackson Launches Startup: Apportable
Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley (CMUSV) assistant research professor Collin Jackson and CMUSV student Chinmay Garde (E'11) have joined forces to create a platform for converting iPhone apps to Android. Their company, Apportable, has used its technology to launch the #1 selling arcade game on Android, Osmos HD.
Jackson was inspired to found Apportable while watching his housemate play the wildly-popular Angry Birds on an iPad. Jackson sat annoyed and helpless with his unsupported Android phone.
"I imagined the developers were too busy to bother porting it to my device," explained Jackson. "Little did I know how difficult it is to port a high-quality game to Android. You have to rewrite and maintain a great deal of code and test on thousands of devices to make sure everything works."
In typical CMU spirit, he decided to do something about it.
"I started Apportable to take care of all those complicated tasks automatically so that Android users can get access to all the same apps that iPhone and iPad owners currently enjoy."
With the help of Silicon Valley seed fund and startup incubator Y Combinator (YC)—"advice, connections, and inspiration that are invaluable for first-time entrepreneurs"—Apportable has grown to its current team of six engineers and recently launched a bestselling arcade game, Osmos HD, on Android.
"We are changing the way that mobile software is developed. Many developers are launching their apps on iOS and leaving the rest of the world behind," explained Jackson. "Our technology brings their apps to Android without the fragmentation and hassle of re-writing their application in a new language. What would typically be a long and expensive development process for supporting Android becomes quick and easy through the use of our system."
Apportable has also partnered with YC-funded Humble Bundle, an organization that raises charitable funds by selling 'bundles' of video games. To date, they've raised over $1.5 million to support the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Child's Play, and independent game developers.
Jackson is indebted to Carnegie Mellon and its entrepreneurial culture.
"CMU has given me ample time and resources to pursue my startup," he said. "The campus is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and many of my students are working on startups of their own." Students like Garde, who joined Apportable after graduation.
"We are lucky to have one of the top mobility students from CMU's Information Networking Institute," noted Jackson.
It's this kind of enterprising activity that CMU encourages through Greenlighting Startups—an initiative to accelerate the university's already impressive record of turning campus innovations into sustainable new businesses.
Jackson's advice for budding student entrepreneurs?
"I spent a lot of time in grad school working at startups and hoping that it would give me some preparation," he said. "In retrospect I should have started a company much sooner. There's no better way to learn to be a founder than to be a founder."
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