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Meetup app developers to take on the world

Auckland University students Hayden Do, Jason Wei, Chris Duan and Derek Zhu will wing their way to the Microsoft Imagine Cup finals in Seattle next month with their social app idea Meep.

The four beat 150 other teams at the recent world semifinals to take their place. Their app allows users to track their friends’ locations in real time and find places to meet.

The team’s entry was one of 73 in the New Zealand competition this year and won the innovation award in the domestic competition in April.

The global competition is in its 16th year and sees student technologists and entrepreneurs develop solutions and business plans to solve a worldwide problem. Kiwi teams have finished in the top six at the Worldwide Finals three times since 2010.

“We’ve seen a lot of Imagine Cup teams go on to do great things,” says Microsoft New Zealand developer experience director Nigel Parker. “For example, I was encouraged to see Vigil Monitoring, formed off the back of the winning New Zealand Imagine Cup team in 2012, win the Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Pre-Commercialisation Company of the Year Award last month.”

This year Microsoft extended the New Zealand competition by partnering with the University of Auckland to train and place 75 students in 22 companies to work over the summer.

“Of the students placed, 10 have secured ongoing employment and these students represented the majority of the students that made it through to our national finals of the Imagine Cup competition in April,” says Parker.

The Meep team will be joined at the worldwide finals by a mentor from Microsoft New Zealand. They’ll compete against 32 other teams overall and eight others in the innovation category.

The judges include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi and Reddit general manager Erik Martin. One team will have the opportunity to meet with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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