Spooky Lights and Scary-Good Talent: How Two Boot Camp Students Built a Halloween-Themed App—and Their Own Company—in Just 90 Days

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Jack Younger and David Liabraaten share a passion for music, coding, and as it turns out, entrepreneurship. They first met at the University of Oregon Coding Boot Camp, powered by Trilogy Education. Just 90 days after completing boot camp, they’ve built a company, released an app, and are already working on their next project. Their company, PalaceLogic LLC, just launched its first lifestyle app BooHue, available in the Apple and Android app stores (and @Boohueapp on Instagram). Here’s how these two ambitious minds came together to create something seasonal, spooky, and fun for the whole family.

Let’s start with some background. How did each of you end up at coding boot camp?

JY: I programmed a bit while I was growing up. Later in life, I ended up feeling stuck in my career doing generic marketing and business. So I moved to a software company, SBI Software, where I took on a project manager role. I noticed that the company was starting to hire more and more developers straight out of coding boot camp. That’s when I realized I had to do this—I had about two years of self-taught experience, and I decided I needed boot camp to give me an edge. It was hard, but at the end of it I walked in and got a developer role.

DL: Web development and software engineering kind of run in my family—but I went into music first. I’ve been a producer, sound engineer, and recording engineer, and currently, I manage a music store. Last year, I was talking to my developer sister and she encouraged me to get back into software development. I hadn’t coded in a while, but I figured a lot of my skills and experience from my music career would translate well, and they did. Oregon was a no-brainer because I’m an alum.

What brought the two of you together at boot camp?

DL: We were randomly placed in the same project group. I learned that Jack was coding a synthesizer, and since I’m a musician, we were able to connect over that. There’s a demand need for musician-focused apps right now, and a lot of musicians are using their expertise to learn coding and build these apps instead of releasing albums. We realized we had a lot in common and started thinking about all the possibilities to use what we learned in class. 

You presented BooHue at a Demo Day session, with only 90 days to complete the app. Tell us about the app and what it does. 

JY: We like to think of BooHue—and our company PalaceLogic—as a capstone project. We started it after boot camp ended, but it was truly an extension of everything we learned there. BooHue is a Halloween-themed control panel that uses a soundboard and plays a light show. The original sound effects we’ve created blends our audiovisual creativity and coding expertise. Our app connects to Philips Hue light bulbs, and it can be fun to surprise trick or treaters, create your own little haunted house, and more.

DL: It’s family entertainment, and completely kid-friendly. My three-year-old has a little tent with the sounds and lights in it. It’s more cartoony than frightening.

What made you guys choose a Halloween theme, and where did the name BooHue come from? 

DL: In the first half of the boot camp we learned about APIs (application programming interfaces), and one of the products covered was Philips Hue Smart Lights. My workplace sold them, so I started looking into them. I saw this as a good opportunity since Halloween was just around the corner. Plus, smart home apps are a pretty hot commodity right now.

JY:  David came up with the name BooHue, which combines our Halloween theme with the name of the light bulbs.

How was the creation process and time spent building the app?

JY: Our responsibilities were well-defined, so we didn’t have to worry about divvying up too many details. We had a good synergy, which helped us move pretty quickly. The programming became a bit more complicated than anticipated—we ended up having to build a second app that would sync the lights to the audio. Luckily, there were no significant hiccups besides just having to wait for app stores to give us approval. 

DL: We relied on Slack to communicate. We’d talk every day after work, and we’d try to get together every two weeks—we’re both in Southeast Portland so it was easy. We used GitHub to share our code. 

What’s ahead for BooHue and PalaceLogic? Where do each of you want this to go?

JY: More, more, more. BooHue is not a volume seller, but it is a resounding success for us. We made it in time, got it out, and had a month to promote it. We met all of our own expectations—and this energy will keep us going. We’re planning projects that will generate some more regular income. Eventually, it would be great for this to become our full-time gig. 

DL: We have had some big ideas about smart homes, augmented reality (AR), and more lifestyle applications. Our next project in the works is called YuleHue—a Christmas-themed light and sound experience. I’m also in the process of interviewing for front-end developer roles, and that’s going really well. 

Looking to create something exciting of your own? Discover our many Trilogy-powered boot camps and courses offered nationwide.

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