David Zax

A View from David Zax

DryerBro and the Rise of the Humor App

Apps should be useful, of course. But sometimes it’s enough if they’re just hilarious.

  • June 7, 2011

The TechCrunch write-up is like a coming-of-age ritual for a startup. A recent Wired story discusses how startups at the hot incubator Y Combinator all look forward to the day when, after weeks and months of slaving away at their big idea, a writer at the AOL-owned property finally takes note. “The TechCrunch of Initiation,” Y Combinator’s Paul Graham calls that moment.

Then again, sometimes you don’t need to have a brilliant idea for an app or service to garner attention. Sometimes you just need to have a funny one. Take DryerBro. Do you have a problem with remembering to take your laundry out when it’s done? Do you wish there were a technological solution that prodded you when it’s time to move your clothes to the dryer? Me either. Indeed, few people have probably ever really felt a strong desire for such a product.

Even so, TechCrunch wrote up the app, which uses your iPhone’s accelerometer to tell you when your laundry is done (when the machine stops rumbling, it uses Twilio to send you or your friends a message). Why? In a word, because it’s funny–and its creators are funny. As one of the masterminds behind the app, Eric Kerr, told TechCrunch: “Ultimately we want to build out a hyper-local group buying ad platform for laundry detergents. Rough back of the napkin calculations indicate that we’d need roughly $41 million in financing, so we’re asking friends and family to help pony up the dough. We also want to build out the map of every active dryer in the world to hang on the wall of our office.”

And there are a few gems from the FAQ section of their site. If my iPhone is on the dryer, how can I receive a text from it? “Valid question, bro. The app is designed to be able to call or text any phone or send an email. Odds are you probably live with someone or chill on the internet all day; use their phone or email yourself.” Why won’t the app work? “Operator error. Bros write perfect code, so our app is flawless. You might have a laundry machine that doesn’t vibrate enough though.”

The team behind DryerBro also brought us itsthisforthat.com, an ingenious site that auto-generates pitches for silly startups. Click once, and you’ll get, “Basically, it’s like a database abstraction layer for cheap vodka!” Click again, and you’ll get, “Basically, it’s like a deal finder for pandas!” or “Basically, it’s like a Zappos for hunters!”

Without having the slightest need for it, I’m sold on the bros’ new app. Then again, it’s free. “If this is the case, sorry,” the team writes in their FAQ, on a scenario in which the app doesn’t work, “you got what you paid for.” If they don’t get their angel investment, let’s hope these guys at least get some stand-up gigs.

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