York College students revamp city's 'Y-Fi' plan with their own product
Two York College students are starting a program to offer free Wi-Fi and create an online network complete with localized and interactive ads for downtown businesses.
Seniors Kyle Musco, a computer engineering major from West Chester, and Andrew Komar, a criminal justice major from York, began the project two years ago when they entered the J.D. Brown Center's Student Elevator Pitch Competition.
The original idea they pitched was a device designed to add a panel of advertisements — which can be customized to reflect a business's needs — to web pages that are connected to a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The device is called Stentora.
They won the competition and were awarded $1,000 for the product.
The pair then entered the Ben Franklin Technology Partner's TechCelerator, which usually awards $10,000 in grants to the first-place team.
"The cool thing about that was they ended up liking our product so much that they split the prize and gave us $3,000," Musco said.
Y-Fi: The students' team, Moena LLC, then moved in to revive an old York County Community Foundation project which had lost traction, Musco said.
"The city had heard about us and contacted us about this project, saying basically, 'We have about $6,000 left in this budget, are you interested in working on it?'" he said.
The project, called Y-Fi, was an effort to get all downtown businesses Wi-Fi access.
"We basically used that as a platform for our product," Musco said. "Both projects go together, and it will only enable the network that we want to work with to be even bigger.
"We basically just went door-to-door offering these access-point devices."
So far, they have supplied five different businesses with a total of nine devices.
Ads: The end goal of their original product is to create interactive and local ads.
Businesses are able to view available ads and customize the desktop and mobile presentation.
"Say you're Mudhook Brewing Co.," Musco said. "You could put your ad in the center and then fill the rest of the panel with other businesses that complement yours."
Musco said he and his partner expect to fully release the product by the end of the year, with more features coming down the road.
"We're hoping that one day, you'll be able to click on an ad and get a coupon for a business or something like that," he said. "We want to keep it local and we want these businesses to really optimize what they're getting out of these ads."
Downtown York business owners who would like more information should email email@example.com.
— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at firstname.lastname@example.org.