Upcoming Hopspot events
Look for Hopspot representatives at local events in Chapel Hill in the coming weeks, including:
Oct. 27: 8-10 p.m. at Back Bar. There will be giveaways!
Oct. 25: 10 p.m. to midnight at The Library. Free cover with app download!
Nov. 4: DTH and a Doughnut on campus. Learn more about Hopspot when you get your daily news with a doughnut.
Nov. 19: Look for us near the Bell Tower & fraternity courts before the UNC football game for Hopspot swag & a chance to win gift cards & a Yeti cooler.
In 2012, Josh Lineberger was working in the food-service industry, watching the way his customers interacted with each other.
Today, he has an app inspired by what he saw in those days, an app development company that supports it and a plan to help people in the Chapel Hill area be more social.
Hopspot is an app that takes away the drama and FOMO of planning a night out. Lineberger came up with the idea after watching people who found ways to meet and interact in real life. Through Hopspot, users can tell friends what kind of activities they are the mood for that day, and what they have decided to do. Statuses, or "social states," include I’m here, On my way, Going, Looking to, Up for anything, Hosting and Staying in.
The point of Hopspot is to get people off their phones to interact in person, rather than electronically, and without the frustrations of group text.
“We want you to get to your friends easier and faster," said Benjamin Van Houten, vice president of development and technology at Socialtopias, the application development company that Lineberger also created to get Hopspot off the ground.
Socialtopias and Hopspot are based in Charlotte, and the UNC-Charlotte community is where Hopspot first took off, Van Houten said. It has become integrated with Uber — allowing users to figure out how to get from place to place more quickly.
Be on the lookout for events promoting Hopspot and opportunities to learn how to use it. You can download it here.
So how did this idea turn into a viable consumer product?
“A lot of networking, a lot of reaching out, and, in the end, a little bit of luck,” said Colby Almond, Director of Marketing at Socialtopias.
Being in Charlotte instead of Silicon Valley helped, Almond said. And Socialtopias also got the financial help it needed to scale from third-party investor Skypoint Ventures.
“Charlotte is more than a banking city,” Almond said. “We are making a great movement in the right direction to show there is a technology hub in Charlotte.”
Mitch Mumma, a professor of the practice of strategy and entrepreneurship at Kenan-Flagler Business School, agreed it takes more than a good idea to break through in the competitive app environment.
“When you have an idea for an app, the thing to do is to get with someone who is technical that can help you build it,” Mumma said. “There’s lots of places to help you develop an app for free; it’s pretty easy to get started if you’re not that technical.”
You also need good customer feedback and an understanding of what your app needs to get to launch, he said.
“You need a small audience with data testers to give you feedback, and it could be limited to a single college campus,” Mumma said. …
“To keep a self-sustaining business, a successful business, you need to scope out what makes it a minimally viable product.. … What features it needs to have at a minimum for you to launch it.”
At Hopspot and Socialtopias, launching the app wasn’t the end. The developers are working on improvements, and the company is working to expand it to more markets, including Chapel Hill.
“An app is never done,” said Almond, “It’s always evolving, needing new updates to make it better.”