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Concert-finding app Timbre apparently has some fans at Apple HQ

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 24, 2012 02:03 PM

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Mark Kasdorf of Intrepid Pursuits got a pleasant surprise last week, when Apple introduced the new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6. As soon as users of the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch upgraded to iOS 6 and went to peruse the iTunes app store, Apple was promoting an app created by Kasdorf's Cambridge development shop as the top app on a list of "Great Free Apps," and also on the "New and Noteworthy" list.

The elegantly-executed app, Timbre, helps you find out about concerts near you; hear samples of each band's music; and, if you like, purchase tickets or iTunes downloads. (Hiawatha Bray of the Globe reviewed Timbre here.)

"Downloads went from 10-25/hr to 300-500/hr," Kasdorf writes via e-mail. (He's pictured at right.) "We're currently trending in the top 200 apps in the store, and top 15 in the music category." He says he'd been all summer to get someone from Apple to check out the beta of the app, but hadn't been successful. Until last week, apparently.

timbre.pngIntrepid's chief technology officer, Matt Bridges, will be at Web Innovators Group tonight to demo the app. The app was originally conceived as part of the 2012 Boston Innovation Challenge in May. (I should note that among that event's sponsors were and the Boston Globe.)

"Our vision [for] from the beginning was to be be an 80/20 company," Kasdorf says. By that, he means "80 percent consulting and 20 percent [of our own] product development." (The 80 percent has included contract work for AAA, Newsday, and Boston gaming startup Lucky Labs.)

Intrepid Pursuits has more of its own apps on the way: In October, the company plans to launch Prime's Quest, a puzzle game, and a children's flip book. The next month, it will debut a chess application.

That's a lot of new product launches for a company that's been around since March 2010 without publishing anything of its own — and particularly since the company has been bootstrapped without outside funding.

"I didn't want to go through a traditional [venture capital] cycle where it's half my time for six months to raise money," Kasdorf says. Now that they're at the point they can support their own internal development along with external contracts, he says they are open to funding — but only to grow those independent ventures as separate companies. Timbre could be the first to get spun out.

So far, the 80/20 external/internal philosophy has worked out well for Intrepid, which has grown from three people working in apartments to 22 full-time employees in a dedicated office in East Cambridge.

"The way we choose our internal projects is we look at what guys on our team are passionate about," Kasdorf says.

The firm's headquarters is at Intrepid Labs, a new collaborative space for startups that Kasdorf created last year for startups that have grown past the two- or three-person phase.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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March 3: Web Innovators Group
Demos, drinks, and schmoozing at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge.

March 7-8: MassDigi Game Challenge
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April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
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