Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kansas City Big Thinker Profile: Michael Bleigh

 Netflix lovers rejoice, there is now an easier way to soak up the freshest content and you have Michael Bleigh to thank. Created by the Olathe, KS native, Hack the Midwest winner Qup (pronounced queue-up), allows Netflix addicts to receive email notifications when new titles are added. Like all great things, Qup was born out of necessity. An admitted Netflix addict and overall movie fanatic, Michael created Qup because he got tired of the old way he was doing things. What was he doing you ask? The old way was to use Google reader to receive Netflix’s RSS feed via mobile device. Then from those, if he’d like to add something to his queue he’d have to login to Netflix’s non-mobile friendly U/I. He wanted to create a way to be able add something to his queue with one click. Once Qup is paired with a Netflix account, this becomes a reality.

However Qup isn’t the only project in Michael's queue. As a Partner at Intridea, Michael is also an avid competitor in hackathons. He competes because he has a lot of ideas and feels that the time crunch based format gives him a chance to really try something out and see if it has legs. One of the ideas that grew legs is Divshot, created at Startup Weekend along with his brother Nathan Bleigh and designer Jake Johnson, whom they met at the competition. Though they did not win Startup weekend, they did build a great foundation for Divshot, and were recently selected as a finalist for the upcoming Crowdstart LA Competition.

*Editors Update: Divshot was just announced as the first place winner of Crowdstart LA taking home $25k. We here at Think Big would Like to congratulate Michael and the rest of the Divshot team. More info available here via Silicon Prairie News."

Divshot is a rapid prototyping tool for web apps, a drag and drop editor similar to a balsamic or mock up tool, but different in that it exports valid semantic html & CSS which can then be taken and used a basis for web apps. It leverages Twitter Bootstrap to provide a pallet of tools to build an interface. Its ultimate goal is to become the interface builder for the web. It is designed with a vision to be a tool that developers wouldn’t turn their nose up at. As a developer he feels there has never been a tool that truly outputs data in this way. As he simple puts it “(he) wanted to see if it were possible to create something that would export the same kind of markup if he were to code it by hand”.

How he Thinks Big:  by taking something that is a little bit annoying to a lot of people and making it easy. For example it may take 30sec to a minute to do all the click throughs from an RSS feed to add something in Netflix. Which probably takes 5-6 minutes a week, but that’s 5-6 minutes a week of wasting time on something that is annoying. If it is possible to spend a day creating something that solves that. Then he views that a win. 

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