For software analyst Barrie Dener, the workday doesn’t end after her 9 to 5 job. That’s when the tech junkie trades keyboards for keypads and gets to coding her newest phone-friendly creation: the New Paltz App.
New Paltz App is essentially a virtual phone book for New Paltzians, allowing users to peruse local businesses and establishments and link directly to their websites.
There’s an array of categories, from restaurants to farms to places of worship, and within each section is a list of options for the user to choose from.
The application can be downloaded for free onto Android and iOS devices and features one-touch calling for services like the New Paltz Delivery Doctor, New Paltz Taxi, a tow truck service and—most popular—Rocco’s Pizzeria.
“I’d like [New Paltz App] to be a household name in New Paltz, I’d like everyone to know, sort of like the new phone book,” Dener said. “People don’t use their phone book anymore and a lot of people, more and more people are using their phone more than they’re using computers.”
Dener markets the product with her husband Butch Dener, a former band promoter. The entrepreneurial duo combine their unique talents to promote the app at establishments in town and collaborate over creative direction.
“She’s the genius and I am the schmoozer,” Butch Dener said. “I saw how she envisioned it and gave input on the way. We’re like songwriters, she had the melody, I gave her the words.”
“It’s nice for us to get more involved in the community together and use our skills together. It’s a project for us to do together,” she said.
The app originated as a mere idea, brought on by boredom, in July of 2013.
Barrie Dener was on bed rest for a month following surgery. Initially thrilled with the freedom, she soon grew restless and decided to channel her creativity into pursuing what had always been an interest of hers: creating her own app.
Three months later, Dener’s labor-of-love was born, and since then, has superseded both of the Deners’ expectations.
The pair have been advertising the app since it went live in September, when Barrie was so excited “it was like she gave birth to a child,” Butch said.
The couple initially promoted New Paltz App at the annual Taste of New Paltz Festival and at SUNY New Paltz’s First-Year Student Businesses Fair in September, where they were met with pleasant shock when many of the students they spoke to said they’d already downloaded the app.
“Every fourth or fifth person who came up to our table said they had downloaded it when they found out they were coming to New Paltz by searching ‘New Paltz Apps,’” Barrie Dener said. “I thought, ‘It’s promoting itself. I love it.’”
Since going live, the app’s corresponding website has had more than 13,000 visitors. The app itself has been accessed by more than 2,000 different phones, has had more than 340 phone calls made through it and averages about 6,000 views per week.
Barrie Dener said she’s been discussing the possibility of developing a travel app with her sister, a travel agent, and is interested in extending a similar application to surrounding communities, which has proven to be more complicated than she anticipated.
“I even thought I would do Rhinebeck and Woodstock,” Barrie said. “But there’s so much of a community element involved in it that I didn’t realize, it takes more time.”
The Deners also emphasized how important it is for them to support businesses in the community, where many of their friends work, and to help the town grow and prosper.
“We really want to help local businesses be more visible in places that they might not be,” Butch Dener said. “It needs to be a service to the local businesses, it needs to work well for them, too.”
Butch Dener said he thinks it’s important for SUNY New Paltz students, one of the app’s biggest intended target audiences, to realize there is more to the local community than the downtown area, and that the New Paltz App can help reveal that.
“Main Street is all you really see. But it’s important to know there is a music club five minutes away. Or a farm stand where you can get incredible local stuff,” he said. “It’s good to know about the community, so you can register to vote at the town clerk—you can find that on the app. Just getting to know the everyday life besides the bars and restaurants.”