Graduate Assistant Coach Creates New App

06.22.13

Tulsa graduate assistant football coach Zak Bigelow displaying his newly created iPhone app, "Pop Mashup".

In today's 24/7/365 era of athletics, particularly on the college level, it's hard to believe any coach is able to maintain a life outside of work whatsoever. The public perception of coaches today seems to be that they are too wrapped up in their work and the job defines them.

Well, one young coach has set out to change that perception. His name is Zak Bigelow and he is the creator and developer of "Pop Mashup", a new iPhone app for lovers of all things pop culture. Bigelow came up with the concept and developed the app while serving as a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Tulsa. Interestingly enough, the idea was born sort of by accident (most great ideas are), when he was engaging in a back-and-forth trivia type game with his friends on Twitter. "It just hit me. Why not turn this into something cool that everyone could enjoy?" said Bigelow. "I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and had some wild ideas, but this was the first time I knew I could actually pull it off."

Perhaps the most impressive feat is that he did all of it while also working towards his MBA; which he achieved this past May, graduating summa cum laude. Bigelow said he spent four months working on his app, with many long nights spent plugging away at the office all by himself, usually between the hours of 9pm and 2am. "I would go to class early in the morning, head to the football office and work until late in the evening, and then spend the remainder of the night developing Pop Mashup."

After playing the game for a few days now, I can honestly say I'm hooked. The biggest thing that separates Pop Mashup from other trivia games is the structure. Users are presented with two pop culture items, say... two movies for instance; and must merge the two together (hence the "mashup") to solve the riddle. It's an interesting concept that is not only for the younger crowd; Gen Xers will love it too. Swing by the iTunes store and download it...It's free.

"I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and had some wild ideas, but this was the first time I knew I could actually pull it off."

It's impressive to see a motivated young coach challenge the status quo and chase his dreams outside of football. Hopefully he has opened the eyes of some other coaches and shown that you can indeed have a life outside of work. However, don't expect Bigelow to just rest on his laurels; he has big plans for the future of his app and his coaching career. "The Next move is to grow the Pop Mashup brand into more than an app," he said. "I would like to grow it into board games and other forms of entertainment, while chasing the coaching dream.  I want to be a college football coach more than anything, but I also want to have a way to supplement my income in case the right opportunity never becomes available."

 

For more information, visit PopMashup.com, or follow Zak Bigelow via @Coach_BiggsTU or @PopMashup_.