The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Student app helps make it a ‘Small World’

Ankith+Subramanya%2C+one+of+the+creators+of+the+app+%22Small+World%2C%22+relaxes+on+the+Engineering+Quad+after+class.+Subramanya+and+his+team+created+an+app+that+allows+people+to+plan+out+vacations.+
Ankith Subramanya, one of the creators of the app

Ankith Subramanya, one of the creators of the app "Small World," relaxes on the Engineering Quad after class. Subramanya and his team created an app that allows people to plan out vacations.

Izzy Murillo

Izzy Murillo

Ankith Subramanya, one of the creators of the app "Small World," relaxes on the Engineering Quad after class. Subramanya and his team created an app that allows people to plan out vacations.

By Niani Scott, Staff writer

With only 54 hours to create a business model out of merely an idea, Ankith Subramanya and his team created Small World, a travel app that prioritizes budget over destination.

“Usually people find a destination first and then they try to make it as cheap as possible for themselves,” said Ankith Subramanya, sophomore in Engineering. “This is the other way around. Students value budget more than the destination.”

An app aimed at making traveling in college easy and affordable, Small World was inspired by Subramanya’s spring break trip to Los Angeles, which was supposed to cost $800 but ended up using double the initial budget.  

“Small World” is an app that will create a complete trip within your budget, compared to apps like TripAdvisor, which provide aspects of a trip, but leave out components such as connecting with others in the country you visit and creating a public travel profile.

“(There is) nothing to help you plan your trip and (help you) meet people while you’re there,” said Shaan Bhakta, Small World team member and junior in Engineering. “(We thought,) let’s make an app that will customize your trip, find the best deals and help find people around you.”

Additional features include food recommendations based on location and the ability to add dietary restrictions to the user’s profile.

The idea was pitched at 54 last September, an event ran by Founders, a student organization which sponsors entrepreneurial ventures on campus. At the event, students have 54 hours to create a startup and develop it into a business model. Then, they are judged and ranked. “Small world” placed third in the competition.

“We were surprised that we got third,” Bhakta said.

Small World placed after a parking app and a language learning app.

“We are like the training wheels for start ups in the student community and we want to prepare them for what’s next,” said Matthew Rastovac, junior in Engineering and director of 54.

Small World placed third at 54 because “they had a really good plan for revenue” and their concept is “your travel agent on your phone,” Rastovac said.

The app will begin with the University as its test subject.

“(Eventually), we want to expand to other colleges,” Subramanya said.

They plan to use social media to promote and expand the app’s audience.

Currently, the Small World team is participating in a startup bootcamp facilitated by 54. Over the course of eight weeks, they will develop their idea even further.

The bootcamp is their next step toward applying to iVenture, a summer –long program where they could finish their idea and get it onto the market.

In an effort to gain team members, they will participate in SocialFuse, a College of Engineering-run networking event.

“(We) went into 54 not knowing what to expect, met a great group of people and we had a lot of fun,” Bhakta said. “There were bumps in the road, but it worked out in the end.”

[email protected]

 

Leave a Comment