From SoundSYNK to Gloop: How winning Microsoft Imagine Cup helped kickstart a new company

Gloop founders Alexander Bochenski and Rob Parker met at Exeter University, UK. Alexander was studying Economics and Rob, Maths and Computer Science. In collaboration with other members of the team they developed a mobile phone app called SoundSYNK that enabled users to stream music from one device to another through bluetooth/wifi/direct in a room. The app was built initially for iOS. A version for Windows Phone was built specifically for the Imagine Cup. They built the first prototype on a Microsoft Windows phone and utilised Microsoft Azure to store data. The project was entered into the Innovation category for the 2013 UK Imagine Cup.

The technology was a completely new approach to mesh networking which could also be used for sharing photos, word documents and data. Full scale production was subsequently rolled out on the iOS platform. The team won the Imagine Cup Innovations UK final and then amazingly took first place in the worldwide finals in St Petersburg, Russia, winning 50,000 dollars. As Alex says “the best week of all our lives... You never know where the Imagine Cup is going to take you. This has all been pretty insane for me personally. It’s a fantastic opportunity, you learn a lot and it’s good fun. That’s why we did it in the first place.” Winning the Imagine Cup was just the start of the team’s success. They were invited to join the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Program in London, which was a tremendous learning curve for the whole team. “We used the prize money to stay in London and went on a 12 week journey of mentorship. It was an amazing experience, all of us loved it, right in the heart of London. It took our company to the next level, from there we raised venture capital investment. Our mentors separated our product into its core elements, what is the MVP, what is the real value proposition and how we can engage customer’s better. They break down your product and rebuild it again. We had access to developers and like-minded people to test ideas on and we went through tons of iterations to improve the product”

Gloop is born

Shortly after the program ended the team realised that the work they were doing on back end services offered a great deal more potential than delivering a consumer music streaming service. The focus shifted to a back end service called Gloop which helps developers build mobile apps by synchronising data across various different platforms. Alexander and Rob have created a platform that allows developers to simply download a SDK, deploy the Gloop stack onto any cloud, and then begin building. It’s a game changer for startups and enterprises alike. Now, a developer can build a messaging app in a day, a team can build experiences that rival the best and enterprises can streamline their platforms. Gloop is scalable, thanks to the use of Docker. And it’s versatile, with an API designed so it can be run on any major cloud provider. All in all, Gloop strips the hassles and tribulations endemic to any engineering work, allowing developers to focus on what matters most, and create more, better. Imagine Cup is a great jumping off point for starting a business, especially for gamers. Always dreamed about owning your own gaming studio? Microsoft provides the opportunities, exposure, people and tools you’ll need along the way. Enter the Imagine Cup Gaming Competition and start making your game today! Also, if you are ready to tap into the power of the cloud, be sure to check out the Azure student offer!

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