Like many others who strive for financial independence, the genesis of their business idea came to them while sitting on a beach contemplating how they could become financially independent so they could live in paradise for the rest of their lives.
Overlooking a shoreline in Puerto Rico, Brandon Bonomo and Tommy Oliveri, both Juniors attending Half Hollow Hills High School East, started brainstorming the concept of what would become the newest social app for the iPhone.
That was in February. You know how it is. Sometimes, the germ of an idea dissipates into the ether once you get back to real life but these high school buddies kept thinking about it and soon they were ready to get to work.
The result is "Best It," a social media app that allows people to upload photos to themed interest groups (they called networks) where members can cast votes, what the developers call "bests," for their favorite pictures.
Oliveri explains it as a competition. People on Best It will follow an unlimited number of networks they find interesting and when they vote for pictures within the network, that image gets bumped up. The pictures in each network that get the most "bests" daily will become the top picture of that network the following day, giving users a bit of exposure and satisfaction for winning the day's competition.
The creators imagine networks to be both generic-like sunsets and sneakers-and very specific-like private networks for school teams. Networks can even be for events like a Halloween Party. People can upload pictures from their party and members can vote on a best costume.
Bonomo, 15, and Oliveri, 16, didn't go it alone. When they got serious about their app they called their friend Spencer Stein, 15, to flesh out the idea. Together the three friends - who play together on a baseball league - tried to find someone in the United States to develop the app but the cost became prohibitive with estimates coming in "way over $25,000," according to Oliveri.
That's when they looked overseas to a Ukrainian company that Bonomo's uncle knew about. That brought the costs under $20,000.
"It was pretty easy," Oliveri said of the process of developing the app after finding the Eastern European company.
In order to make Best It happen, the teens went to a bunch of resources to get the money. Their parents combined with their own funds and some other investors came through, including a fellow baseball player, Matt Forelli, 16, who also invested in the idea. Oliveri calls him a "silent partner" in the deal. The four teens make up the core of the "best It" team.
They already have a Twitter account and Facebook page set up to promote the app, which they say should be released next week. When school starts up again in September the teens hope to use the venue to help spread the app virally through their own community and then have it jump to other schools.
Best It hopes to differentiate itself from other social media applications by focusing just on photos and the fact that networks are mostly open for anyone to join, not relying on a circle of friends.
"We saw the competition when it came to pictures," Oliveri said of a similar app in the market. "It didn't give you many options so we just wanted to turn it up a little bit."
Of course, the teens ran the idea past their parents and overcame some initial cynicism by getting them informed about what they were doing.
"At first they were skeptical," Oliveri admitted. "Because they were unaware of the market."