Work in progress: Chalq a new app that will show you what's trending locally

Right now World Cup and Eric Cantor are trending on Twitter. That's fine for the global community. But what if there were an app that showed you the hottest topics in your own town?

Andy Peninger is working on an app that would show you what's new in Kalamazoo (and Grand Rapids).

Chalq (a name derived from the mashing together of chat, local talk, a local chalk board, and the typical unavailability of a name with the traditional spelling of chalk) is a mobile app that focuses on the local.

The app finds your location--locations in West Michigan in the beginning--and will show users messages sent within a chosen geographic area. If you add a message with a hashtag it becomes part of a hashtag list. The hashtags that are used the most go to the top of the list.

Because Chalq is about what's happening right now, messages are wiped away 24 hours after they are posted. Everyone using the app can see the messages of others using the app (no friending or following necessary).

It could be used to find out what events are going on--think, hashtag Art Hop or hashtag Placemaking Conference. Or down the road you could look for a topic like "lunchtime specials."

Hashtags generate a topic category and a list will filtering the topics will show what's trending.

Peninger has been working on the app for about two months, with the help of two developers. The idea got traction when it was a weekly winner of a Start Garden competition. Peninger received $5,000, the initial level of dollars available through the funder that invests in ideas, anticipating that some eventually grow into full-fledged businesses.

Peninger says working on Chalq is a great opportunity and he felt he needed to devote more effort to it if it was going to succeed. This helped ease his decision to leave his job of two-plus years at Maestro to try something new. “There’s a lot of opportunity in this space and I really just want to explore it more and see where it takes me,” Peninger says.

He's already been contacted by those in Kalamazoo eager to work with him on a  freelance basis, so the nest egg he built up while employed at Maestro may last awhile.

It's too early to tell how people will use Chalq once it is available to them. Peninger says the way the free app is used it will largely dictate what kind of revenue the app can generate.

"We have to see how it goes, see how people use it, and if they come back to it once they've used it," Peninger says.  

In coming week's he will be showing people how the work in progressing in several upcoming events including Grand App Night and Start Up Zoo's Start Up Spotlight.

On June 26 he returns to Start Garden for a progress update and at that time they will decide whether to further fund the project, reject it, or tell him to come back at a later date.

He's also working to let people know about Chalq's progress through its website, Facebook page, and Twitter.

"We want people to know it's coming so there is some anticipation rather than releasing it and no one knows it's available."

Source: Andy Peninger, Chalq