The Windows 8 launch is right around the corner and recently Microsoft and New York Tech Meetup teamed up to host a workshop and hackathon @WeWork Lounge in NYC.

This blog post was written by Neha Bhaskar, SR CHANNEL & ECOSYSTEM Marketing Manager at Microsoft, in NYC.

 There were some really cool demos there with Purpella winning the hackathon with their supercool app and design. Here’s a brief interview with their Chief Designer Lena and Co-founder. Daniel.

 

Tell us a bit about your app

Purpella is a tool to build human connections and the best app you can find to meet with people with similar interests in small groups. We help people start small gatherings before or after cool events in your city-maybe grab a dinner or drinks together before a concert. You can choose the venue, time around the event.

It really helps build genuine human connections amongst people with similar interests.

 

What came first for you-the team or the idea?  

For us, the team definitely came first. We’re a bunch of designers, developers and marketers who’ve been involve with the startup community for long. Lena-our Chief Designer graduated Rhode Island School of Design. Dan is the co-founder of Startups.hk

aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship among the youth in Hong Kong.

 

What inspired you to work on this idea?

There are a lot of applications that let you do things offline-such as order food from home instead of sharing a meal with friends. A lot of our lives are losing that human connection.

We wanted to change that and get people together to do something together and build those personal connections.  We feel that those connections are best built in small groups–so you could meet over a meal before a concert or share a cab ride together.

 

And how far along are you in your app development?

We’re still a small team of about 10 people. We’ve been working on this since mid-April and just did a soft Beta launch with friends and family. We hope to have a website up and running in November for a broader launch.

We’ve been totally blown away by the new Windows Phone and Windows 8 User Experience and hope to have a Windows Phone app in December followed by a Windows 8 app. We’re looking for developers to come work with us on that!

 

What motivated you to start in NYC vs Silicon Valley?

We feel our app is very applicable and valuable to NYC. A lot of people, when they finish school, move to NYC. You lose old connections and it’s a new circle of friends you need to make. So we wanted to launch this in the city. Sometimes it’s hard to make those personal connections in a huge city like NYC and we help you build that.  NYC is also the capital of events in the country- everything from exhibitions, performances, events etc.

 Though NYC still has some catching up to do with Silicon Valley, the tech scene here is growing very fast. We see 3-4 tech events every night here! And Tech Talent has not been an issue for us –most of us have known each other from before.

 

Who would you like to be your mentor, and why?

Well, there’s the three everyone says-Paul Graham, Peter Theil and Ron Conway.

We really like meetup.com and that has a lot of lessons for us. Scott (co-founder) did a really good job of building the first offline community and would have great input for us.

Another personal favorite is Steve Ballmer. The past couple of years have seen amazing innovation from Microsoft and we can’t wait for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. We love the User Interface!

 

When was the last time you fell in love with a product?

 

Lena: Since I’m a designer. I love the new focus on Natural User Interface and touch in the industry.

 

We are really blown away with Windows Phone. It’s a really consistent design language, with authentically digital content before chrome.  It’s quick, responsive with a clean and concise experience. Very impressive how the Microsoft design strategy has evolved

 

Daniel: I love DropBox. lt’s so elegant and easy to use-very applicable to startups.

 

Any Advice to others?

 

Daniel: It’s good to have many ideas but get focused on one. Have a clear plan on what to do and start with putting your team together.

 

Lena: Success requires a true combination of great talent coming together from all fields-marketing. Biz Dev, design and development. Make sure you have fun along the way!