Basalt student part of team promoting life-simplifying app! | AspenTimes.com

Basalt student part of team promoting life-simplifying app!

Bear Matthews, 15, a sophomore at Basalt High School, is part of a team of teen-agers that's launching an app in September that they say will simplify the lives of customers.

Basalt High School sophomore Bear Matthews didn't wait until classes started Wednesday to buckle down on intense homework.

Matthews, 15, was recently enlisted to help promote an application created by his friend, Dylan Steck, a former classmate in New York City. The app, WebDeck, provides an online clearinghouse where customers can check their own social media notifications, calendar entries and news feeds from different devices. They can log in from any computer or mobile device. Right now, it works with Apple operating systems. It's available at app stores but a major update for mobile versions is expected in one or two weeks, Steck said.

Matthews started attending Basalt High School in December 2015 after moving to the Roaring Fork Valley. His role with WebDeck is overseeing design of the website and the physical appearance of the app, and directing social media. In addition to founder Steck, the team includes Alexander Kwok, head of design, and Charles Bailey, who is in charge of web development and software engineering. They are all between ages 14 and 17.

At some point, Matthews said, the goal is to have WebDeck sync the information from devices made by different companies. It "breaks the barrier between Apple, Android and any other software notifications and makes it all accessible from anywhere," Matthews said.

In other words, customers with an Android phone and an Apple iPad will potentially be able to sync their text messages, Twitter tweets, calendar entries and news briefings at one site. That will remove frustration and open options for a lot of customers.

"Once you buy a device, you're stuck with that company, usually," Matthews said.

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Steck said he is uncertain when they will develop an app for an Android device.

Matthews is seasoned well beyond his years and explains WebDeck's plan in a calm, comprehensive way. He grew up in the south of England before moving to the U.S. He got his first name, he said, after his parents abandoned the idea of calling a son "Tiger" as the name surged in popularity because of a certain pro golfer.

The application is free through the App Store. When customers download and sign up, they give WebDeck permission to access their data, which it stores. Customers log on and have access to their information on one screen.

"Reduce time spent searching for what you need using WebDeck and help us change the tech industry one screen at a time," the company's promotional material says.

So why hasn't someone else created this app? The big device manufacturers don't have the motivation, he said. He's uncertain why someone else didn't create the clearinghouse. His team's biggest problem was establishing a way to store all the data rather than creating the actual app, he said.

They plan to make money from advertisements on their website and app page rather than through a fee, Matthews said.

They won't patent their app. They want to share it and have other teams improve upon their technology so customers ultimately benefit, according to Matthews.

At age 15, Matthews said he can accept the fact that he might not capitalize financially on his first business venture. That's not what's motivating him or the team.

Matthews said he's got mixed emotions about being on a team of young entrepreneurs. On the one hand, why should there be any minimum age on inventing something, he asked. But he also acknowledged, "It does feel awkward."

Products are generally perceived as something that could be seen and felt. WebDeck's app is something that cannot be touched. Instead, it will be judged on how it makes people feel and whether it makes their lives easier.

His team is banking on an affirmative answer. More on the company can be found at http://www.webdeck.co.

(Editor's note: This story was edited to more accurately reflect the founding and evolution of WebDeck.)

scondon@aspentimes.com

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