ETSU students create app that connects people through pick-up sporting events


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A group of ETSU students is tired of the struggle that goes into setting up a pick-up sporting event, so they're creating an app to make it easier.

ETSU senior Caleb Mitcler speaks two languages, English and computer code.

"The world would be a better place if everyone knew a little bit of code," Mitcler says.

He had created an app before, but he hadn't found his million dollar idea until he saw fellow ETSU senior Arshene Baigvand present "Pick Up & Play" at the iBucs (Innovative Buccaneers) Challenge last semester.

"Caleb reached out to me on Facebook and said, 'hey I like your idea. I code, we should do something'," Baigvand, a senior finance major, says.

"I was going to meet Arshene at first and if I didn't like him, I was going to steal the idea," Mitcler says. "But then I quickly realize the value that he brought."

Baigvand's pitch for Pick Up & Play won the top prize at the challenge, and a $5,000 grand prize.

"It was nice to win and the money was nice too, but what was really cool was getting to meet Caleb," he says. "We got to connect there and that's what made Pick Up & Play happen."

The goal of the app is to take the stress out of setting up a pick-up sporting event. Once you sign in, you can create a game at any of the designated locations, and other people can find the game, sign up, and play. Baigvand came up with the idea for it years ago, but says he knew he had to put his idea to action after studying abroad in Thailand. He says it isn't as common in foreign countries for strangers to meet up and play games, partly because of a language barrier, but an app could solve that issue.

The beta version of Pick Up & Play is available on the App Store right now. Mitcler says it works, but is still buggy.

"I'm my own biggest critic," he says.

The group is planning on rolling out an updated, more sophisticated version next spring.

"Some of the new features that are going to be added into it are going to make it a very valuable application," Mitcler says. "It's going to be awesome."

The app is only set up for games on ETSU's campus right now, but their dream is to make Pick Up & Play a worldwide commodity.

"How cool would it be to just take a flight to the other side of the world, let's say Hong Kong, get off the plane, hit the hotel room, open up the app and find the game in minutes," Baigvand says.

Baigvand says they plan on using the $5,000 prize on marketing tools when the new version is ready to launch.

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