Meet the doughnut aficionado’s best friend: Doughbot. This iPhone configured app locates nearby doughnut shops while providing relevant reviews, pictures, and directions. The app was developed by self-proclaimed foodie and Petoskey native Tim Tolbert, and its slogan is a bold assurance to demoralized doughnut lovers: “Doughbot will change your life. Never be lost without doughnuts again. Ever.”
MyNorth’s Evan Perry chatted with Tolbert—whose experiences includes building European cell phone networks and developing real estate in Spain—about the world of doughnuts, a duo of Danish developers, and programming the perfect app.
First off: why donuts?
The key to a good app is to find a problem and look to solve it, and then programming an app so that people can solve those problems themselves.
I was in Chicago, and I wanted to go to a certain doughnut shop, but there are about ten other cool doughnut shops in Chicago that I would have wanted to go to. If you’re not much of a foodie, or you don’t have the time to research these places before you go, then you’re not going to find them. And while you might have another app on your phone, it might take a few clicks to narrow it down to doughnuts. People seem to have such short attention spans, so I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool to have an app that would fire off all the doughnut shops in a 20-mile radius?
Do you have any other experience in app development or programming?
I’ve worked in and around tech for the last 20 years or so. I was involved in a mobile marketing start-up called Front Door Insights, which was acquired by a company called Mobivity. I was a co-founder of Front Door Insights, and we developed a couple customer loyalty apps, but when we were bought out in June of 2013, I had an opportunity for the first time in 15 years or so to take a step back and not hop directly into another job. That’s where Doughbot germinated from.
Are there any other apps you’re programming right now, or is this is your baby?
This is my baby. I’m actually not a programmer; I reached out to a programmer who was recommended to me by the app’s graphic designer—both the programmer and graphic designer are from Denmark…
Do they eat danishes?
Yeah, I think so. The graphic designer had previously worked on a similar app that found all the artisanal ice cream shops in Denmark, and I really liked the design he came up with. I pitched him the idea for Doughbot, and he thought it was very cool. We were off and running in October with the design set-up and the wireframe—I did the wireframe.
How has the app industry changed in the last five years?
As an app developer, I’ll say that it’s not as easy as it used to be three or four years ago. When Apple opened its iOS to app developers in 2008 or 2009, an app had a much better chance of standing out because there weren’t as many apps out there. So now, to compete with the thousands of apps, you gotta have something compelling that solves a problem, and if it can have a little humor and look good and operate well, I think it can go places. That’s been my goal with Doughbot.
Any other apps you’re thinking about developing once your work on Doughbot relaxes?
I’m going to focus on Doughbot for a while. I’ve been talking with my developer and we want to release an Android version of the app, which will probably lag behind the Apple version by a month or so. But I do have a few more ideas, and I find this work to be fun. If I can create a product that people like to use, I’m going to keep doing it.
But you’re probably not going to share those ideas…
I’ll plan on getting a phone call from you in a year or so.
Visit MeetDoughbot.com to download the app. And, while you’re there, check out an animated video of the Doughbot frolicking in a field of doughnut flowers and swimming in a doughnut ocean à la Scrooge McDuck.