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Alumni create successful app for iPhone

Posted: Oct 31, 2013

With new technology on the rise, more opportunities are opening for ambitious creators. Smartphones and tablets have the capabilities for education, business and entertainment applications. Brock Taylor ’08 and Austen Couchenour ’08 are on board with the rapidly changing technology of our time.

These Olivet alumni — and former roommates at Chapman Hall — created “The Voice Studio” app, which is available in Apple’s App Store.

When their app launched on May 23, 2013, Brock and Austen saw six months of hard work pay off. Within the first 12 days, there were more than 6,000 downloads. And since then, that number has exceeded 80,000. Their app is now being used in more than 85 countries.

Inspiration ignites ideas

Brock and Austen first met as freshmen at Olivet and quickly became friends. After leaving Olivet, they kept in touch and visited each other. When they realized the potential they had for working together, they laid the foundation to create their first app.

After reading the book App Empire, they were inspired to create an app and began the brainstorming process.

“We had to come up with a way to pool our resources and create an engaging, fun, entertaining, cost effective app that would help us get on the map early on,” Brock says.

Their goal was to find something that was seeing success, but improve on it to make it better for the user. They took a business approach and spent hours analyzing what was available. When they found one they could improve on, they made it their own and had a lot of fun with it. “The Voice Studio” was the result.

Their endeavor soon grew into a company, Third Floor Studios, in which they are partners seeking to make a profit on their creativity. In fact, their company name came from the fact that they both lived on the third floor of Chapman their freshman year.

Unexpected success

“The Voice Studio” is a fun way to hear yourself or to hear what you would sound like with a special effect. A few effects are to slow down or speed up your voice, reverse the audio, or even sound like a cyborg or chipmunk. After making the recording, you can send it through email or text, or post it on Facebook or Twitter.

“Watching something that you’ve created from an idea develop into something that’s being used worldwide is the most enjoyable part,” Brock says. “I didn’t even think about it when we went into this.”

He attributes a lot of the success to a class he took at Olivet with Dr. Don Daake, professor in the Department of Business. In that entrepreneurship class, each student had to create his or her own business plan and do a case study on a current successful business.

“Developing that business plan was really helpful in teaching me how to think through this process, how to look at developing an app as a business,” he says. “It motivated me to take on this project and take the risk.”

Entrepreneurs and partners

Though they live in different states, the partners are still committed to working together. Brock also works with his father, Dan Taylor '79 — vice president of Olivet’s Alumni Board — in the family business in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. Austen lives in the Detroit area and also works for Arhaus Furniture.

“It’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur and one reason why we are attracted to this business. We have the ability to run it from anywhere,” Brock says.

Brock and Austen also see this project as a way to create a lifestyle with more freedom and flexibility.

“We have more flexibility with where we live, time we spend with our wives, how we use our time and how we serve others,” Brock says.