Sean Hathaway and Adam Geiger understood the value of applying their studies outside of the classroom.
What they should do with their skills — Hathaway is a finance major and Geiger is a computer science and engineering major — was the question. After some brainstorming, they realized there was a need for an app to help guide new Penn State students.
The sophomore duo kicked off mySTATE, a navigational app on Apple’s iOS, in February, and they’ve continued to add new features as downloads increase. There have been more than 8,000 downloads for the app, mostly concentrated in the State College area.
“It’s a navigational app to discover and locate everything on campus you can think of,” Hathaway said. “We have residence halls, dining halls, class and then we went off campus.”
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The app has grown from a how-to-get-from-point-A-to-point-B guide on campus to a multifaceted tool for getting around downtown and beyond. Fraternity houses, nightclubs, pubs and stores can be located on the app.
Hathaway said the most useful feature is a new taxi service function.
“At the bottom of your screen, the app will show your current address for you, and on the top of the screen you can get every taxi service in State College,” Hathaway said. “You click on the service, press call and you can tell them where you are.”
Hathaway said the Penn State Small Business Development Center has been integral to their success.
“The SBDC was very helpful in all of this,” Hathaway said. “Linda Feltman has mentored me and helped me through all of this. She’s been a godsend with all of the help she’s given us.”
Feltman, a business consultant at the SBDC, credited Hathaway and Geiger for their work and flexibility.
“They did a pivot in the spring, because it was originally called myPSU,” Feltman said. “That was a trademark issue, and they said, ‘OK, how do we get around it?’ They changed the name, and they’ve asked all of the questions. They’ve been good at seeking out all of the resources available to them. It’s a case where they realized classroom knowledge is good, but if I’m going to make myself more appealing to a recruiter I’ve got to do something different.”
Geiger said it wasn’t easy getting other ideas off the ground before they pursued creating mySTATE.
“We had been going to SBDC’s workshops, and we had different ideas that all fell short because of the funds we had and the skills we had,” Geiger said. “We realized we could do the navigational app, because we knew I had the tech side and Sean had the business side. We worked for a few months to make it happen, and we’re going to keep adding more to it.”
Finding time to code new features can be difficult for Geiger, because he’s on the football team. Listed as a running back, he got into three games last season as a holder for placekicks.
“I get to enjoy football every day, and I love it,” Geiger said. “As a walk-on, though, you realize the NFL might not be the furthest you go, so when an opportunity like this is in front of you, you do it. Adding new things to the app can be a struggle, but I find time on the weekends and at night to do it.”