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ITHACA, N.Y. — Created by a team of four Cornell students, PicSwitch combines two popular genres in the app stores – competitive, turn-based mobile games and social networks.

In PicSwitch, you can send pictures to friends and family, but the pictures turn into a 9-tile puzzle that has to be solved within an allotted time. There are captions that can be added before and after solving the puzzle – for example, before the puzzle it may say “Guess where I am?” and after solving a picture of a bagel, and the bottom caption might say “CTB, Come join!”

In addition to sharing pictures with friends and family, there are different categories of puzzles that users can solve in their spare time ranging from animals to cities to fun facts.

There are also featured puzzles, where you find the app’s contests. For these contests, companies give prizes to the fastest solver of a puzzle related to their brand or product, and they can also give discounts to all successful solvers with links to their store built in.

How did the idea start?

CEO Robert Neff came up with the idea in an entrepreneurship class at Cornell, Business Planning for New Ventures.

Neff was frustrated with invasive advertisements, and wanted to develop an engaging way for brands to reach mobile users that adds value to both parties.

The course was taught by Deb Streeter in Applied Economics and Management, who encouraged Robert to pursue the idea further after the class came to a conclusion. From there, he recruited a team of tech co-founders in the form of 3 Computer Science students (Gibson Mulonga ’17, IHS grad Joseph Menzenski ’16, and Jiacong Xu ’17) that handle the development of the app for iOS and Android devices.

With the help of an angel investment from a Cornell professor, they’ve been able to continue working full-time this summer, leading to the launch of the application which took place last week.

“The team is very excited about launch and future expansion opportunities,” Neff said. “It took a lot of time in testing and development, but we really believe we’ve got a great product that users and brands enjoy. Now we have to execute our marketing and promotional strategy while addressing any bugs that come up. I hope to expand the development team to include more students this upcoming academic year as well.”

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.