"Take the initiative"

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UMD Freshman Develops the Turf App

UMD Freshman Colton Sinning  
UMD freshman Colton Sinning  
UMD student Colton Sinning's Turf app  

Colton Sinning had an idea for an app, but unlike most of us, he didn’t say, “Someone should create that.” Instead, he decided to design and launch it himself. The result is Turf, a social media app that isn’t about who you know, but where you are.

For Sinning, a freshman majoring in marketing, ideas come naturally. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind set – to do my own thing,” he said. While in high school in the small community of Pine Island, Minn., he noticed a trend on facebook. Because they were all at the same school,“Everyone was friending everyone. I thought 'Why couldn’t that work on a wider scale?'” The seeds of Turf were sown.

Mark Your Turf
Turf is based on where you are located. A Turf can be a town, city, school, university, or sports stadium. In order to belong to a Turf, you need to be physically there. Once you join Turf, people in the same location, on the same Turf, can see your posts and pictures. You don’t have to “friend” or “follow” them, and they don’t have to “friend” or “follow” you.

The possibilities for Turf are far reaching. Having an event in your town? Post it on Turf and reach everyone on that Turf. No need to hope that others “share” your post.

At a sporting event? Join the Turf for that stadium or arena and connect with other fans at the same game. Traveling to Chicago? Once you arrive, join the Turf in that location and ask the locals for great ideas on restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and sightseeing.

Currently there are Turfs throughout the U.S. and Canada. And yes, there’s even a UMD Turf.

Growing Turf

Sinning began Turf in the fall of 2012. “I started doing research. There was nothing really like it,” he noted. He then began doing sketches. “I created a user experience graph that walks you through the app.”

He wrote a business plan and set up an LLC. His family and friends have invested in the venture, and he worked with a development company to streamline the product and make it visually appealing. The app launched last Halloween. It is free on the App Store or through the TurfApp website. Currently about 3,000 people have downloaded Turf.

He sees Turf growing, “There are so many things that I can do with it. There are a lot of features that I can add.” He is working on an Android release.

Sinning offers some advice to other students with entrepreneurial ambitions. “It’s not as hard as it may seem. A lot of people have an idea, but they don’t believe that they can do it. Number one, start doing something or someone else will do it.” Sinning speaks from experience when he says, “Take the initiative.”


UMD: Those Who Can, Duluth

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, Feb. 2014


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UMD News Features editor, Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu

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