Everybody loves free food, college students especially, so why let good food go to waste?
When Siyab Khan, 24, and Bryan Pattirane, 26, asked each other that question as college students three years ago, it sparked the concept of Hitspot. The college-focused mobile app, available for iPhone and Android users, is exclusively offered at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The team behind it, however, has bigger plans.
"We just started talking about it, and it eventually became this thing where it's not just about the free food," said Khan, the five-man team's head of marketing. "It's about all these events that are happening around campus and really personalizing it for the student."
The team's concept quickly evolved into a platform for UCCS clubs and event organizers to let students know what was happening around campus. Now one of the group's goals is to make students feel more connected to their school.
"For me personally, going through college I saw all these events and I purposely didn't go to them just because there were so many of them," said David Tweedy, the group's business leader. "When I started to go to a few of them like basketball games, I felt so in tune with the college itself, so that made me want to represent the college."
Khan, Tweedy and lead developer Pattirane were the original members of the team. They recently brought on a second app developer, Darrin Sudaria, who just moved to Denver, and Kyle Popish, who also helps with business.
Today, the app has more than 200 downloads, which were garnered between its release in February through the end of the spring semester in May.
During that time, Khan said, dozens of events like sports games to club meetings and, of course, free food opportunities were posted on Hitspot.
Still, they have a long road ahead.
The first step in using any app is finding it, which the men admit is not easy. A search for "Hitspot" will turn up endless hotspot apps before the desired lime green result appears. Khan said they named it so because free food hits the spot.
"COLLEGE IS EXPENSIVE ENOUGH. YOU'RE A STUDENT, GET FREE STUFF!" is typed across a banner at the top of the home screen, which is also predominantly lime green. During the busy fall and spring semesters, there is a stream of events for students to choose from.
If a user checks the app out now, they will not see much because summer is much more quiet at the school. That has given the team leeway to improve the app, said Tweedy, who graduated from UCCS with a business degree in the spring.
"We didn't really want to focus on content too much this summer, until we can make the content easily accessible," he said.
When looking at the bigger picture, Khan said, they released Hitspot at a perfect time.
"The reason we're sticking to UCCS for now is because there are businesses still growing around the campus and the student base is growing and we want to jump on it before it gets too big," he said.
In fact, UCCS is seeing its highest enrollment rates ever with 11,299 students on campus and more than 2,000 taking online courses in fall 2015, a 1.4 percent increase from the year prior.
While Hitspot is solely available at UCCS, the men have set their sights on a larger target.
"Our short-term goal is that we really want to be a big player in the CU system," Khan said. "Not just UCCS, but all the major colleges in Colorado, because they are all one big system and the campuses are pretty close to one another."
Before it can reach beyond Colorado Springs, the team has other things to take care of - many, many other things. Deciding who can check out events via Hitspot or what can be posted are some fundamentals the team is working on.
The team members hope to ultimately have the app at colleges around the country, but they have lots of work to do at their home base until then.
"When we go more national, we want this to be the standard for what college students use to find what's going on around them," Khan said.
Contact May Ortega: 636-0275