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Pennies an Hour

Pennies an Hour

(Originally published in the San Diego Reader January 21, 2015.)

In April 2013, Ryan Grainger and Bobby Sullivan found themselves faced with a particular First World problem at Coachella. The then-20- and 19-year-old University of San Diego students could not see all 190 performances. Although they did have some idea of their priorities, they wanted to catch special appearances and surprises at the festival, and when they drove back to San Diego when it was over, they wanted to be able to say, “I was there when…”

“One of the hardest parts about [the hugeness of Coachella] is, Oh, I’m over here seeing this band, but maybe that’s more fun over there,” Sullivan explains. “It’s kind of that fear of missing out.”

The two friends decided they needed an app that would give them a clear picture of what was happening nearby so they could make an informed decision about where to go — without having to scroll and sift through a bunch of Twitter or Instagram feeds.

Nearly two years later, following a test launch at University of San Diego, Granger and Sullivan are on the brink of launching their new app, Rocket, at San Diego State University, UCSD, and University of California, Santa Barbara.

And when they do, Rocket will be one drop in a sea of 700,000-plus apps available in Apple and Google, Inc., app stores.

Around the same time Rocket launches, another app created by a San Diego local disappears from the Great Sea of Apps. San Diego Essential Guide author Alison DaRosa is both disappointed and relieved that the life of her app is coming to an end: disappointed because it’s a project she was proud of, and relieved because it sucked the life out of her and became a financial burden.

“If I was calculating, I made, maybe, pennies an hour, literally,” the 66-year-old journalist and travel writer says. “At first it was fun because I was going new places, learning new things, meeting interesting people, and so all that was cool.”

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