By Laura Layden
Naples Daily News, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Katie Field is one of the many women in business who have been inspired to create a product because of the children (Sometimes knows as “mompreneurs”). After finding it difficult to organize all of the photos of her kids, she created an app for parents to not only organize but share photos on social media.
When Katie Field pitched her BUN app at a local “Shark Tank”-style event about a year ago, you might say it still was in the oven.
Now it’s fully cooked and ready for download.
The app offers a way for parents to organize pictures of their “baby buns,” errrrr children, on a digital time line that can be shared easily on social networks. Recently launched, the app can be downloaded free from the iTunes Store.
“We’ve had a couple hundred or so install the app and have started using it, and we are getting feedback,” said Field, 40, of Naples.
“We are seeing the different ways in which they like using it and what they are looking for,” she said.
Last March, the app won the hearts and votes of the crowd at the first VenturePitch SWFL, earning what organizers described as the People’s Choice award. Unlike in the “Shark Tank” show on TV, the entrepreneurs competing in the local event weren’t vying for investors’ money, only recognition from a judge’s panel that their concepts were “investable.”
The judges chose another company as the winner, but Field and her partners weren’t discouraged.
“We were thrilled that the audience had such a positive viewpoint of us, or reaction to us,” she said. “That to us is worth its weight in gold. You want people to get it and be excited about it.”
After VenturePitch, Field and her partners pressed on, funding the app themselves and giving birth to it last month. It launched Feb. 26.
Since VenturePitch, the app has become more polished. Changes include the ability to post directly to Facebook to a select group of close friends, so pictures aren’t shared with every acquaintance.
A time line can be set up so that more than one person can contribute to it, including grandparents and even the baby sitter.
When a BUN is created, the child’s age is entered, which enables the app to automatically organize pictures by date on a time line.
Photos also can be organized by events or put into albums.
“One of the things we are working on right now is we are going to be offering BUN groups, which basically is for classrooms, sports teams, Boy Scouts,” Field said.
“When you have games, parents take lots of pictures,” she said. “It allows for there to be a group of parents who can post right into the event, then extrapolate the pictures of their child into their own BUN.”
For babies, the time line starts at weeks, then progresses to months and then to years as children get older.
Comments can be shared on the time line, creating a record that children can look back on when they’re older.
The app was born out of Field’s own frustrations in trying to organize her children’s photos. A mother of three, including 5-year-old twins, she said that after her youngest came along, she found herself too busy to finish his baby book, though she had taken plenty of photos of him on her smartphone.
“I wasn’t not taking pictures of him,” Field said. “I had my phone on me. So for every cute or funny thing or milestone, whether it was sitting up or walking, I was snapping pictures of him.
“I had all these pictures, but I needed a way to organize them.”
On iTunes, the description of the app says it all: “Got Baby Book Guilt? Bun is here to help!”
Field said she kept bringing up her frustrations to her husband, Farouk Al-Shorafa, who has extensive experience in sales and technology development. Before she knew it, their conversations snowballed into an idea for an app.
Before becoming a mom to her three young children, Field worked in the New York City fashion world overseeing product development and production. She put those skills to use in creating the app.
She picked the name BUN because it plays well on the saying “bun in the oven” and the loving phrase “honey bun.”
“It sticks actually,” she said. “People remember it and people comment on it.”
There’s a third partner involved in BUN, Florian Vlad, a local management and marketing specialist and entrepreneur, who has founded a few technology businesses of his own.
Initially, the trio is focused on getting local users.
“It’s kind of nice because there are a lot of grandparents here,” Field said. “My mom loves it. She is using it all the time.”
They’re still exploring ways to make money on the app and are considering bringing on other investors.
“We are definitely interested in speaking with investors, especially in terms of having advisers that can help us on the marketing landscape,” Field said. “Now that our app is launched, we haven’t really done any marketing for it yet.”
They also are considering forming partnerships with other companies that target moms and dads, including publishers that could produce keepsake books using the photos posted on BUN.
Tim Cartwright, chairman of the Naples-based Tamiami Angel Fund, the organizer of VenturePitch, said the launch of BUN helps demonstrate that great technology and software apps can come from Southwest Florida, despite its smaller size and older population.
“I think that there is a lot of tech development,” Cartwright said. “When I say a lot, I mean for the size city we are.”
There are plans to continue improving the app. One of the new features in the works would allow users to post videos, too.