Courtney Larned can tell you all about the photo-sharing application Dashes.
The app, available for use since August, allows people to create a project — called a dash — and add photos, videos and notes. The items are all private until the user invites specific people to join that particular dash.
Larned is the director of marketing and communications of Lifedash, the Wesley Chapel-based company that created the iPhone and Android phone app.
Larned was passionate about the project from the start, but even she has been surprised by its real-life applications.
When her 6-year-old son, Benjamin, had his first day at school in Baltimore in the fall, Larned was reluctantly plugging away at work in Pasco County.
Her husband created a dash in the app, which only Larned, her mother in New York, and his parents in Washington, D.C., had access to. He posted photos of their son getting dressed and then going to school. At the end of the day, a video featuring Benjamin detailing his experience was added.
"It was a 'Ta-da' moment for me because I was building this app; it was social, it was fun for parties, it was useful for this and that," Larned said. "This just got emotional. I mean, truly, there was a depth to it that we didn't even consider when we were building and designing it out in the first phase."
Around the Lifedash office, there are dashes dedicated to the 1980s, libations and even doppelgangers.
The company, started in 2009, was originally headquartered in the Northdale/Lutz area, but a need for larger office space and access to the interstate as well as hotels made its current location a major appeal to CEO and president Travis Bond.
Bond said this application allows people to know their surroundings and feel comfortable, not censoring themselves because only those you invite can see what you're posting in a dash.
"We knew that people had a lot more to say than just posting a photo and then having some people comment on it because it was really a snippet about a story," Bond said referring to other photo-sharing apps and social media sites. "We are just creatures that love to tell stories. Whether it's been the fireside 5,000 years ago or whether it's in a bar — it's all about storytelling and being a part of it."
Bond recalls seeing Larned struggle with "mommy guilt" on her son's first day at school. He also remembers how it appeared a weight was lifted with each photo posted by Larned's husband.
"You could see the burden go down," Bond said. "We never could have done that 10 years ago. That real-time storytelling and being a part of something, and knowing that it's private, makes all the difference."
Lifedash is one of many technology-based companies that call Pasco County home. Some of the companies range from Artix Entertainment, which creates flash video games for Web browsers, to Crazy Mike's Apps, which reviews apps for Apple and Android products.
"What we're seeing now is these small tech companies and creative companies starting to come out of the woodwork and reveal themselves here," Summer Martin of the Pasco Economic Development Council said. "We're seeing things starting to cluster and see things happening."
There also are several social media companies, including Ballywhosocial and Head of Lettuce Media, located in the county.
The county has used its Pasco Enterprise Network to entice companies to open in the area. The network helps grow small businesses through the use of consulting, training or technical assistance.
The state also helps those small companies through a program called GrowFL. It offers roundtable discussions with other local CEOs as well as free strategic research, among other opportunities.
"We're getting more and more interest and more and more inquiries from tech companies, especially with growth, how we can help them grow and help them with growth challenges," said Krista Hakes, economic developer for the EDC. "Whether that be from hiring to finding space. That's all positive and good for us."
She said Pasco County is on the radar because businesses like to be near similar businesses.
Dashes has made its way into the hands of working parents, divorced parents and even project managers, who use the app to keep up with construction without being there.
The company is participating in building a technology center in Wauchula and uses the app to make decisions from paint colors to the location of electrical outlets on the walls.
In addition to that project, Lifedash is working with hospitals in the state to create CareSync, a medical records application people can use with their family members.