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A Harford County man's boating app is cruising to a new level of success after a little help from his daughter and a whole lot of TikTok users.
It was a 12 second TikTok video that grabbed people’s attention. The words: "help blow up my dad’s boating app; he’s worked so hard on it and just wants people to try it out" went viral with more than three million likes.
It skyrocketed an unknown boating app to Apple’s #1 most downloaded navigation map on January 18 — beating out Google Maps. It’s currently in the top 10 navigation apps on Apple with over 18,000 ratings and a five star review. Long time boat owner Jeff Foulk was shocked.
"This is crazy," said Jeff Foulk.
His daughter Megan Foulk says "that was my dad’s real time reaction to all of your comments and feedback."
Megan Foulk started it all: she filmed her dad at a Chicago boat convention.
"I really just want to show how authentic Captain Jeff can be like and how much a lot of people can relate to him. And I feel like that's a lot of what people feel is like everyone's kind of felt that ignored feeling. I think that's why a lot of people cling on to," she said.
Comments like "this broke my heart" and "need a boat" flooded Megan’s video. Others downloaded the app even though they didn’t have a boat.
Captain Jeff most certainly captured people’s hearts. But he says he’s not rejected all the time. Some people do pop by his booth to talk.
"I was trying to hand it out, but literally they just passed on by me. Not a single person turned around. No, we wouldn't be doing boat shows if that was like that the whole time," he said.
Argo is a free app based out of Maryland but can be used around the country. It helps people navigate their boat. Users can look for new destinations or simply use it to meet up with other boaters.
Jeff had the idea for Argo 10 years ago. He says throughout its development he’s faced stumbling blocks along the way.
"But I never gave up hope. My wife at one point said, because I literally talk about it all the time, and the shirt that you saw in one of the videos," he said.
Marketing professor and TikTok influencer Rajesh Srivastava knows a thing or two about going viral. He’s got seven million likes on his account and over 190,000 followers.
"Here was the daughter talking about her dad, saying that, hey, he really worked hard at it. There was an emotional angle. There was a good emotional angle to that. That's why it worked," Srivastava said.
As more viewers move from traditional media consumption to digital, Srivastava says advertising has also changed.
"We are beginning to listen more to our peers, to our friends, to our people like us. And TikTok is just like that. You are listening more to people who are like you. And rather than a company telling that, hey, my product is good," he continued.
Megan saw how hard her dad worked, and wanted to help.
"He’s currently swamped with emails and swamped in the best way possible — thank you all," she said.
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