Three Centre College students have worked to create an award-winning music streaming app that allows listening to become a more social and democratic experience. John Nickell ’22 (Morehead, Kentucky), Jacob Ballard ’22 (Lexington, Kentucky) and George Merhoff ’21 (Louisville, Kentucky), along with Nikhil Krishna, a colleague from McGill University, spent their summer developing and marketing their new app, “The Que,” a third-party streaming app that allows users of Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music to connect their accounts and share music in real time.
Nickell was interning for the Director of USDA Rural Development when one of his co-workers suggested their development team apply for the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition in order to receive funding for their newly developed design, a project inspired on Centre’s campus during finals week of the 2019 spring semester.
“George, Jacob and I, along with a number of our SAE brothers, were going to get Taco Bell after a late night of studying,” Nickell explains. While they were listening to music, the song requests from the passengers came pouring in. That is when Merhoff asked, “Why can’t I just add a song to your queue from back here?”
Merhoff’s question was the inspiration behind the app.
“In any setting, a small gathering with friends, a weekend house party here on campus or even in Cowan, the Que will allow users to create proximity-based parties that their friends can easily join,” Nickell continues. “In larger, public parties, attendees can suggest songs to a public queue where everyone present can vote so that the most popular song moves to the top.”
Merhoff and Nickell oversee the business and legal aspects of the company, whereas Ballard and Krishna focus their efforts on the developmental components of the app.
The students provided a complete business plan to be reviewed by the pitch committee and, once named as finalists, they gave a solidifying pitch at the Appalachian Center for the Arts in Pikeville, Kentucky.
The competition was not an easy win from the start, and the group encountered a close voting race with another entry.
“Once we had a substantial lead in the voting, we truly could not contain our excitement, as we finally saw our hard work pay off,” says Merhoff.
The students credit the social and learning atmosphere that Centre has provided them with much of their success.
“Centre brought Jacob, George, Nikhil and I together and fostered a living learning environment that is undoubtedly unique to anywhere on earth,” explains Nickell. “The opportunity to learn in a tight-knit community, both in and out of the classroom, is something that is truly indispensable.
“Because of the environment that this school has created, we were able to come together, bounce our ideas off one another and ultimately create a product that we all love,” he concludes.
THE QUE LAUNCH | The Que is slated to launch on the App Store and Google Play Store by the end of October 2019, and the company is planning to use the prize money to market their app at 12 launch parties on campuses across the nation. It will go live during the first launch party on Centre’s campus, and those in attendance will have the opportunity to download the ad-free version and partake in the first streaming experience.
by Makenzie Dries ’21
October 4, 2019