inventing snaptype

How To Bring Your OT App Invention To Life

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INVENTING SNAPTYPE

Amberlynn Slavin, a college student in an Occupational Therapy program, came up with this amazing idea and then brought it to fruition.   I find myself brimming with ideas, but I’ve still never invented anything!  Amberlynn was kind enough to answer a few questions about the process of inventing and developing an app.

Here are the questions that I had for Amberlynn….

1) WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA FOR “SNAPTYPE” ?

 While I was in school for occupational therapy, I met a little boy during my level I fieldwork. He had dysgraphia and his handwriting was really messy.  It was difficult for him to read his own handwriting. He would get so frustrated while attempting to do his school worksheets. There had to be a better way. 
That’s when I came up with the idea of inventing SnapType. I thought, if he could use an iPad to take a picture of the worksheet, he could then simply type the answers onto the iPad’s screen. No need for a struggle with the pencil.  After doing some research, I learned there were not any apps that did what I wanted it to do. So I decided to create it! That is how SnapType was born.

 

2) HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN DEVELOPING THE APP?

Inventing SnapType-

 
Before I started developing the app, I want to find out if he would even find value in it. I went home and sketched out my idea on a piece of paper. From there I created a simple mockup of the app using a program called Balsamiq. It was very crude, but it was enough to get my point across. I shared it with his OT and she loved the idea!

 

With the OT’s enthusiasm, I decided it was worth taking my idea to the next level. I spent several hours mocking up every function, action, and screen of how I wanted the app to perform. The functionality was very basic and didn’t have any bells and whistles, but it would be sufficient for someone to test out the concept. Through a friend of a friend, I was connected with a developer in India who would build out the app for a few hundred dollars. A few weeks later, I had a working app!
SnapType Pro

Click the image to read more about SnapType

What happened next?

The little boy from my fieldwork loved it. As did his OT, teacher, and parents. Next, SnapType went onto the Apple App Store. Within a few short months, it already had more than 20,000 downloads. I could hardly believe it. Students, teachers, parents and therapists from around the world were using SnapType. They loved how it brought inclusion, independence, and self-confidence. At the same time, they wanted more features, more functionality.  

 

I took their suggestions and began mocking up an even better version. As a broke college student, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on the app development. My previous developer in India wasn’t willing to work without being paid. I then turned to Reddit, an internet community, and posted that I was looking for a developer. After a few rough interactions, I finally found a new developer who was really excited about inventing SnapType. His name is Brendan Kirchner and he agreed to partner with me and develop SnapType 2.0
 
We kept in constant contact over the next 2 months, developing the app at rapid speed. We then launched a completely rebuilt SnapType and SnapType Pro. SnapType is free and provides a ton of value. Similarly, SnapType Pro provides all that same value with some really cool additional features, all for the price of just a few dollars. 
 
As time went on, SnapType was flying off the figurative shelf! As of today, SnapType is used around the world by students in multiple languages and settings.  It has more than 700,000 downloads to date.  Students are thriving and educators are thrilled.

 

3) WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE IN Developing and Inventing SNAPTYPE?

It was interesting and exciting  to take on this big project while being a full-time student with three part-time jobs.   This little boy needed my help. On the technical side of things, it was a journey finding the right developer for the job. I was lucky to team up with my husband, Ben Slavin, who helped find the perfect developer and lends a lot of support behind the scenes.

4) HAS DEVELOPING AN APP CHANGED YOUR PATH OR YOUR VIEW OF THE KIND OF THERAPIST YOU WILL BE? 

 
Developing this app has taught me that occupational therapists (and students) can do anything. Everyone takes their own path through their careers and lives. All of us OTs are passionately creative, and it’s exciting to see what we can all bring to our profession. Inventing SnapType  is just the beginning of my exciting career. It has motivated me to challenge myself and to continue to learn new things. It is truly an amazing and humbling feeling to know that this app has not only changed the world of one little boy, but also the lives of over half a million students!

 

5) WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR A PROFESSIONAL WITH A “GREAT IDEA” ?

1) Step outside your comfort zone, and make it happen! Lots of people have ideas, but ideas do not become a reality unless you act upon them!
2) Take baby steps when pursuing your ideas. Before taking on the huge task of bringing your idea from concept to reality, you have to learn if your community finds value in the idea. 
 
3)  Create a minimum viable product (MVP) before spending gobs of time and money building your great idea. Create the most simple working form of your idea. It could be a napkin sketch.  Or maybe an interactive PowerPoint presentation, or whatever homemade fabrication you can put together to test out the product.
This is really important. This is how I went about inventing SnapType.
 
Lastly, I am a strong believer of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Because if you don’t, then you will never know what you can accomplish.
Follow SnapType on FacebookBlogWebsite, and Twitter
Connect with Amberlynn on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amberlynngifford
Download Snaptype for free here
Download Snaptype Pro here.
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Read More About SnapType

 

 ABOUT AMBERLYNN SLAVIN:

AOTA HS Amberlynn Slavin recently graduated with her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from Springfield College in Massachusetts. She’s been competing in and coaching gymnastics for most of her life, with over 15 years of experience of working with children. When not studying for the NBCOT test, which is rare, you can find her working on all sorts of creative projects. She hopes to work in pediatrics once she becomes a registered OT.

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