Clockwise App uses news to awaken instead of alarm bells.

Waking up is easier when you know what's in store for the day. For those without a home assistant, Clockwise's Android alarm app may have you stepping out of bed informed.

The app allows users to set alarms that will simultaneously trigger text-to-speech of activated widgets, which range from the day's weather to current news.

First released in November of 2016, Clockwise's second version was released in August and now has more than 8,000 users.

Besides its founders being challenged by balancing life as OSU undergraduates and entrepreneurs, Clockwise has encountered other hurdles—like working with an unanticipated market.

“(Our initial users) were from a lot of foreign countries, which was not what we expected, so we got a lot of negative feedback at first about language support,” Gallagher says.

While still catering primarily to its domestic market, Clockwise is seeking to raise funds, a portion of which can be used to support text-to-speech for other languages.

Funding, however, is not likely to come internally, as Clockwise struggles with monetization of the app. A moderate stream of revenue comes from ads and the 99-cent premium users can pay to not see ads and have unlimited widgets and alarms.

Future funding will also determine whether the startup student duo makes Clockwise a priority after graduating in May.

While the app does not require the device wakeup technology seen with “Alexa,” it could have the smarts to wake you up.

Will Clockwise achieve startup success?

“From an investor standpoint, there are two things I like about the product. One, it almost completely eliminates the barrier of requiring users to change their behavior—everyone needs to wake up. And two, once they grow a sizable base of users, you can see some great potential for leveraging the technology to generate additional high-margin revenue with premium features.”

Potential Investor: Jim Karam, Member, Ohio Tech Angel Fund

“This application will be popular with busy professionals that want to start their day feeling informed. In particular, it will resonate with the productive tech-savvy crowd who are enticed by clever life hacks that offer unique ways to approach everyday tasks. A news-based alarm clock is an inventive way to inject smart technology into what has up until now been a mundane event.”

Potential User: Josh Harrison, President, Improving

“The app does a great job of offering new features to what has become a standard app. Despite all of that, I don't think it solves a problem users have. I believe it will have a strong but very small group of users.”

Industry Expert: Joel Stephens, President, Switchbox

ZIG Transportation App Zags to Florida

ZIG, a mobility-as-a-service transit platform by Columbus' ZED Digital, has decided to make a sharp change of direction as it expands to Jacksonville, Florida.

Part of the reason for the move south is to be in close proximity to ZIG's newest team member, Frank Martin, who is based in Orlando. Martin is a 2016 American Public Transportation Association hall of fame recipient and has helped ZED develop the US market for ZIG's data aggregation of live transportation offerings, giving users a one-stop app when deciding how to get from point A to point B.

Besides ZIG's MaaS offering, it is experimenting with partners to bring a European trend to the US: mobility on demand. The premise is simple: a bus that operates like Uber as it is called to pick up its passengers where they are, rather than at specific bus stops.

ZIG is behind COTA's new transportation app, which went live in September. While ZIG's work with COTA isn't technically part of the Smart Columbus program, ZED Digital President Sumithra Jagganath is excited about working in sync with the developments.