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Beneath the roof of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house lives Wake Forest University’s latest success story.  After dedicating nearly three years of his life to late nights and an entrepreneurial workload, Kurt Walker can now sleep easily.

Through unwavering dedication and innovation, Walker launched his thematic video-sharing app, Spool, last Thursday.  Since the app’s release last week, social media-lovers worldwide have embraced the latest trend in video sharing.

“It’s been a long journey,” says Walker, a senior computer science major. “And I can’t wait to see where it goes.”

Spool is a social networking app that allows users to view and post thematic 7-second looping videos.  With a creative word or phrase to initiate the spool, users can feed off one another to make each video in the spool more creative than the last.

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“I figured if you give the user some direction with a word or phrase, then that’s all you need to generate creativity,” Walker says.  “It sparks quality content that people will want to watch.”

Walker first derived the idea from popular social media sites like Vine and Snapchat that also operate on the premises of sharing videos with other users.  He noticed that Vine users’ newsfeeds were cluttered with videos that lacked meaningful content.

Vine noticed this trend, too.  With the release of the #revine option, users were enabled to repost popular videos to their feed.  Although the posts were typically more interesting, they no longer featured friends and family members.

“I found this contradictory to the purpose of social media,” Walker says. “You aren’t able to connect with people you actually know on a personal level.”

Thus in the spring of his freshman year, Walker conceived the idea for his app, Spool.

“He just kind of threw out the general idea to the pledge class,” remembers Tim Holland, Walker’s good friend and pledge brother. “None of us really took it seriously at first. We questioned whether he had the discipline and the resources to get the app going, but he proved us wrong.”

As video trends like Neknominating and the Ice Bucket Challenge spread like wild fire across social media screens, Walker was fueled by the idea that each person’s video built on the ones created before it.

Spools are open for 24 hours before closing forever.  As more people join the site and post videos, the spools will continue to grow organically.

“The funniest spool I’ve seen is titled ‘Dad Dance Moves,’” says senior Taylor Olson, an avid user of the app. “They just keep getting more creative.”

With the help of friends and outside connections, he was able to raise enough capital to hire programmers from China to work on the coding for Spool.  After enduring weeks of flakey communication and delayed deadlines, Walker realized that outsourcing would not suffice and took matters into his own hands.

“They were sneaky,” Walker says. “So I thought, ‘I’m a computer science major. I’ll do it myself.’”

That summer he bought a book on iOS and immediately delved into the material in hopes of teaching himself the programming language.  He spent afternoons in a local Starbucks reading the book from cover to cover until the employees closed for the night.

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He bought a book on iOS and taught himself the programming language.

 “I remember the day he came up with the name for the app,” Holland says. “It was a big day.”

Walker arrived at the name ‘Spool’ one afternoon while he and his brother sat at the kitchen table naming household objects.

“We were originally thinking of a spool of thread, so I designed the circle in the feed to look like one,” Walker says. “My mom pointed out that it looked like a video spool, and I realized that makes way more sense!”

In just one week since the initial launch, Spool has almost 500 users.  Although concentrated in Winston-Salem, users are spread out over 40 cities and 13 countries.

“I’m not so sure how users in Mozambique or Chile got involved,” Walker jokes. “Spool is an app where you have to have your friends on it. So if the population is too scattered, then users won’t have each other to watch videos and build content with.”

For this reason Walker plans to focus on encouraging the Wake Forest community to download the app before hiring brand ambassadors to expand users to other tight knit communities and universities.

With over 500 videos posted among 165 spools, it’s apparent that Walker’s launch was met with viral success.  This success, in part, can be attributed to the launch party thrown by Walker’s fraternity.

“We’re all Kurt’s best friends,” Holland says. “So when we had the opportunity to throw Spool’s launch party, it was a no brainer.”

The brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon hosted the party as an opportunity to get Kurt the outreach. Balloons and banners decorated the house on Saturday afternoon. Guests enjoyed catered barbeque and sipped from aqua-colored cups. Some launch party attendees even wore Spool T-Shirts to promote the app.

“The boys really came together,” says sophomore Ruby Arresty. “The house was well decorated and everyone was excited about the app.”

In preparation for the launch, Walker and his friends created catchy Spools so new users would be exposed to entertaining videos once they logged on. Walker credits much of Spool’s advancement to his friends’ constant support over the years. With every adjustment and modification, his friends were eager to test his work.

“That’s why we love Spool,” Holland says. “It’s another chance to show there’s something behind the house. There’s creativity, entrepreneurship and a love for one another. If Spool succeeds, we all succeed.”  

 

As a junior at Wake Forest University, I am a declared Communication major with a double minor in Journalism and Film Studies. I enjoy intense hot yoga classes and large amounts of chocolate covered coffee beans. I’m offering you 21 years of wisdom. Visit my blog A Busy Blonde to learn more about me.

 

 

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