Persistence rewarded as Jonathan George gets Boxcar on track
Screenshot of Boxcar's homepage, boxcar.io
A startup with ties to Wichita, Kan. received a great round of press at the close of March. Boxcar, a notification dashboard previously only found on iOS devices and the web, was released as an app for Mac. On the day of the release, March 31, Boxcar was covered by TechCrunch, Read Write Web, Business Insider and Macworld. Interested to learn about the story behind the startup, I set out to learn more about what Boxcar does.
While other applications make it easier for you to check various sites for information, Boxcar aims to make it easy for the information you want to be delivered to you. By looking at these sites from a user engagement perspective, Boxcar has been able to realize that notifying people really extends beyond the computer and the phone into places like your car and your TV. This is really the next evolution in information, connectivity and engagement.
This is all really powerful stuff, but the interesting thing about Boxcar is its history. Boxcar CEO Jonathan George (Photo at left from twitter.com/jdg) lives in Wichita, and most of the rest of the team is in New York City. George had been building products on his own before deciding to found his first startup in 2006. After the venture failed, he decided to recover from the emotional output by getting back to building products again. In the course of working on his first company, he had met the team at Eastmedia in New York and started building websites in Ruby on Rails.
After a while, he started working on his own projects again and came up with the idea for Boxcar. He built the application as a sort of experiment, exploring the capabilities of push notifications and iPhone development. After 16 months, he brought on two friends from Eastmedia, and Boxcar became a real startup. There are now three people working on it full-time, including George. Although many of his colleagues are in New York, it is hardly a barrier to be remotely located in this technology environment, and he does spend time in New York as well. As far as living in Wichita, George offered: "Why haven't I moved? Because of family, and that won't be changing anytime soon."
I found this to be really the quintessential startup story, of failure, recovery, and finally some success, with a Silicon Prairie twist.