Sarah Hostyk’s Place Tempo helps people uncover nearby sweet spots for working remotely and studying.
Walking around town in a life-sized phone costume is one of the many ways Sarah Hostyk, a native of Montgomery County, Maryland, has demonstrated her entrepreneurial zeal and dedication toward launching Place Tempo. A free app for Apple and Android, Place Tempo matches remote workers and students with the six best nearby places to telework or study, based on users’ selected criteria and real-time crowdsourced location ratings. Over the past few months, Hostyk walked to every major café and coffee shop in DC and in Silver Spring, Maryland, moving from table to table to pitch her app to customers.
“I’m a big believer in serendipity,” Hostyk said. “I pitch the app to strangers everywhere: in coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and on the metro.”
The app is geared toward remote workers, students, and travelers. Users can choose from criteria such as fast Wi-Fi, noise level, busyness, open seating, available outlets, and more to identify the optimal telework locations for their individual needs. Currently, Place Tempo covers Washington, D.C., and College Park, Maryland, but Hostyk is working to expand coverage to include Montgomery County and northern Virginia. Eventually, she plans to take the app national.
The time is ripe for this app: According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, 43 percent of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely. Meanwhile, 3.9 million U.S. employees work from home at least half time, according to Flex Jobs and Global Workplace Analytics’ 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report. Yet many people, like Hostyk, enjoy the flexibility of telework but don’t find their homes to be the most productive environments.
Hostyk spent years bouncing from café to café in search of productive remote work environments — first as a student and later while teleworking in Boston for various start-ups. The realization that she was wasting valuable time moving from place to place in search of reliable Wi-Fi, open seats, available outlets, and a quiet atmosphere inspired her to develop Place Tempo. The app bridges the gap between the flexibility of telework and the need for reliable, productive remote work environments. “[The app] is a productivity-focused Yelp meets Waze,” Hostyk explained.
Launching her own business is the culmination of Hostyk’s childhood dream, and the result of over a decade of preparation. She wrote her first business plan at age 13, and upon starting her first job at age 16, began saving up to launch her own company one day. After college, she moved to Boston, where she worked for several tech startups.
She chose to move back to the DC area in order to launch Place Tempo where she grew up. Her ties to the local Jewish community run deep: An alumna of the Hebrew Day Institute, her family attended both Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in Silver Spring and Ohev Shalom in
Olney, Maryland, during her childhood.
These days, Hostyk tends to spend Shabbat in DC. "I really like going to DC Minyan, Rosh Pina, and Ohev Shalom DC, as well as to [young professional] events put on by Gather DC and Adas Israel," she said.
In addition to the religious and social opportunities DC has to offer, Hostyk also found a wealth of professional support. “The DC and DMV tech community is very helpful and tight knit,” she said. “I’m involved in a lot of the local tech and business groups and go to many of them to do pitches and demos of the app and talk to people.”
In choosing to return home to Montgomery County while she launches Place Tempo, Hostyk has come full circle in chasing her dream.
Find Place Tempo online at www.placetempo.com; in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store; and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
By Malka Goldberg
Malka Goldberg is the Community News editor for Kol HaBirah.