Hampshire graduate Ian Spalter 94F, director of design and experience at Foursquare, was recently named to Fast Company’s 2013 list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.
With Foursquare, users check in via a mobile device from various restaurants, landmarks, and venues. “For the most part, computing can now be accomplished by an iPhone or an iPad,” Spalter says. “You’re seeing these devices become users’ primary computers. They make 90 percent of what we do on computers easier.
“That’s the fun part, the technology keeps evolving, and you have to reinvent, and learn new skills.”
Foursquare users create a log of locations where they have been, which provides a map, timeline, promotional tool for businesses, and a guide for likeminded individuals.
“Dennis Crowley, our CEO, likes to say, ‘Someday, hundreds of millions of people will carry a piece of software in their pocket that will tell them all the great things to do around them, help them find their friends, and save money,’” Spalter says. “We're building that at Foursquare right now, something no one else has done. We're the app more than 35 million people use to meet up with friends, discover great new places to try, and what to do when they get there."
A multidisciplinary approach is what Spalter says distinguishes his work: “I look at problems from different angles. Every environment I’ve worked in has had an entrepreneurial spirit, the multidisciplinary approach and thinking.”
Hampshire’s interdisciplinary approach allowed Spalter to “explore,” he says. “A Hampshire education really forces you to solve problems creatively and learn how to start from a small idea and build on that. A lot of my education [involved] exploring outside the classroom, I was able to get access to things I didn’t have in my dorm room. That access allowed me to change the course of my career. I wouldn’t be doing what I [am] doing without the access to the hardware and software at Hampshire.”
Ian Spalter with his wife Zakia Spalter 94F (also a Hampshire alum) and their children Leo, August, Miles, and Zora