Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Want A Donut?
. . . .

Want A Donut?

There’s an App for That

Patrick Sullivan - May 5th, 2014  


A Petoskey native found a hole in the iPhone app market.

From his home on the shores of Burt Lake, Tim Tolbert sought to fill it with the launch of Doughbot in March.

In its first weeks the doughnut finder wound up featured on the first page of the iTunes Store’s list of recommended apps.

Doughbot does what it promises: It turns your iPhone or iPad into an automated doughnut locator, providing reviews, maps and directions to the nearest places to find the O-shaped sweets.

ARTISANAL DOUGHNUTS

The app combined two of Tolbert’s loves: travel and doughnuts.

“One of my favorite things to do is travel when I have time, whether it’s a long weekend or whatever,” he said.

Lately he’s traveled a lot to Chicago and he’s noticed the burgeoning popularity of doughnuts.

“Doughnuts seem to be like cupcakes were a few years ago, even if they’ve been around for a hundred years,” Tolbert said.

He was inspired on a long weekend last July when he discovered a maker with a particularly delicious recipe that sold out every morning.

“They would sell out every morning by 11, and that’s it,” he said. “You’d have to come back the next day.”

DOUGHNUT INSPIRATION

The idea that you had to be on top of where good doughnuts are made inspired Tolbert.

He hired a graphic designer and a programmer, both based in Denmark, and he brought his vision to life.

Tolbert said he’s been “blown away” by the response.

Among the hundreds of thousands of apps that languish in iTunes App Store, his invention rose to the top. An Android version is slated to be released in about a month.

“I’ve been really pleased,” he said.

“They classed Doughbot one of the best new apps available in the App Store right now, which is really a huge honor.”

That first week Doughbot was top five among food and drink apps and top five among paid apps, he said.

BETTER THAN A PHONE BOOK

Customers need something like Dough bot, said Clayton Brown, owner of Johan’s Pastry Shop of Petoskey and seven other locations around northern Michigan.

“All the kids that are in high school, the younger kids, they don’t use the phone book anymore. They’re on their iPhone,” Brown said. “They just do that app on their phone and that tells them where [the doughuts are].”

Brown said he’s glad to be on something like Doughbot, but he recognizes that it could also hurt him, because online reviews are not always fair. Someone might want to complain about, say, parking, and it could cost him business.

“Me, as a baker who’s been in business for 25 years, this stuff is changing,” Brown said. “In some instances, it can hurt us, too. You know, we try hard to please anybody, but it only takes one person to hurt us.”

Kathy Potter, of Potter’s Fine Pastries in Traverse City, hadn’t heard of Doughbot, but she was happy to hear the two Potter’s stores showed up on the app.

“We just had our 85th anniversary in February,” Potter said. “Actually, it’s our 86th, but they had to close for sugar rations in 1928.”

APP IS AUTOMATED

Some of Tolbert’s favorite nearby places for doughnuts are Johan’s, the Elk Rapids Sweet Shop and Barb’s Bakery in Northport.

Tolbert puts doughnut shops into three categories: mom and pop shops that have been around a hundred years, chains like Dunkin or Tim Horton’s that you can find everywhere and you know what you’re going to get, and boutique doughnut shops.

That last category is where you might find doughnuts with unusual ingredients.

“They’re foodies and they have a passion for doughnuts, you know, they’re bringing in new and interesting flavors,” he said.

“I’ve had a maple bacon doughnut with an actual piece of bacon on it, which was quite interesting.”

But don’t assume Tolbert’s favorites get any favors in Doughbot. The app is automated. It searches for doughnut shops based on Yahoo’s location database, reviews from Yelp! and photo galleries tagged in Instagram.

ANYTHING FROM ANYWHERE

Tolbert became an app developer in a roundabout way.

A 1984 Petoskey grad, he attended college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. before he headed off to Europe and elsewhere for 11 years.

He worked around the world in telecom and real estate until he returned to Michigan a few years ago to start a tech company with his brother. That company – Front Door Insights – worked with restaurants and solons and retail businesses to use text message marketing to keep customers engaged.

The company was purchased by a competitor, Mobivity, and Tolbert found himself with some time on his hands.

Tolbert doesn’t think it’s odd that he was able to score a tech hit from his rural Emmet County locale near Brutus. Nowadays you can do anything from anywhere, he said.

“That’s the cool thing about the App store and Amazon. If you’re a writer, you’ve got these distribution networks available,” he said. “You can do this anywhere, if you have a good idea.”

 
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