A mobile app to eliminate waiting in line?

By Narciso A. Tapia

Don't you just hate waiting in line? Wouldn't it be much easier if you could simply be alerted when it's your turn to see doctor or apply for a visa?

That's just what 20-year-old Janessa Padin, a fourth year nursing student, had in mind when she came up with the winning idea for a mobile app that would eliminate the need to queue.

The app won top prize in the recently concluded Startup Weekend Cebu, an event that gathered people of all backgrounds to come up with a mobile or web application that could be the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. The event happened in May.

Waiting in line at 3 a.m.
Padin's winning app eliminates the problem of waiting in queues or lines in pharmacies, banks, doctors' clinics, among others, by notifying the user about his number in the queue and the number that's currently being served.

She said she came up with the idea after her experience queuing up at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"I remember having to wait at DFA at 3 a.m.! It was ridiculous. Then I thought it would be really nice if I could have gotten a priority number then maybe went home or waited at a nearby coffee shop instead of sitting there at the sidewalk, " she said.

With a team of 10 that included four developers, a designer and "non-techs" like Padin, she further developed the idea and included a business model and technical requisites for the app.

'Great people with awesome ideas'
So how did a nursing student who does not know programming end up in a Startup Weekend event?

"Well, it all started when my brother, Albert, was going to a Startup Weekend Workshop at CIT (Cebu Institute of Technology)," she said. "I went with him kay wa may lingaw (I had nothing else to do). Then when I got there, I got really interested. Great people with awesome ideas."

Weeks after the workshop, she came up with the idea that eventually won for her team the first prize in the first Startup Weekend in Cebu.

Next steps
Now, she and her team plan to push the idea to completion by establishing their startup and taking to heart the lessons she learned during the competition.

"I learned to ask questions when I didn't understand, which happened often. I also learned to be really flexible with my roles and to relate with people more experienced and older than me."

In the meantime, it's back to nursing school for Padin even though she keeps her tech dreams alive.

"Hopefully, it works out," she said. "I really want to do both. Medicine and entrepreneurship."