I had the chance to talk with a local radio station about making apps. Check it out:
Interview with Frank and Jim at WSVA
A Little App Happy
Little Grill Helps Entrepreneur Launch Smartphone Application Enterprise
Posted: September 20, 2011
By DOUG MANNERS
Mike Howdyshell (left), creator of the Little Grill Collective’s smartphone application, shows off the app with his brother Chris, one of the restaurant’s owners, on Monday at the eatery. The app features menus, photos, a blog and other features for customers to peruse. Howdyshell, 37, recently started an application development firm, Develop My Life LLC, and hopes to grow the business by developing apps for other small businesses in the central Valley. (Photo by Justin Falls)
HARRISONBURG - Boxes of old Trivial Pursuit cards on the tables at the Little Grill Collective help customers keep their minds sharp.
Now, worker-owners at the small community restaurant are turning to technology to help keep the Little Grill on customers’ minds long after they leave the table.A smartphone application that launched this month allows users mobile access to the menu, blog updates and even trivia questions highlighting the eatery’s history.“It’s a way of building a customer base and having meaningful interaction with customers besides just serving them food,” worker-owner Tim Evans said. “The app is another way to connect with [our] community.”Mike Howdyshell, whose brother Chris is a worker-owner at the Little Grill, designed the iPhone app for the restaurant, located on North Main Street in downtown Harrisonburg’s northern fringe. The language arts teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School builds apps as a side job and late last year launched a business, Develop My Life LLC, to take his app development enterprise to the next level.Good ‘Marketing Tool’
Apple is reviewing Howdyshell’s second app, Movie My Life, for approval. It’s an entertainment app that offers a movie soundtrack for your life.But Howdyshell, 37, hopes to grow the business by developing more business-oriented apps for other small companies in the central Valley.“It’s a very useful marketing tool,” Howdyshell said. “iPhone apps have a lot of cache to them.”
Not many area businesses have turned to them, however.
Howdyshell believes the Little Grill is the first small business in Harrisonburg with an iPhone app. Last year, Vision Studios designed an Android-enabled app for Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint.
More could jump on board as smartphones keep growing in popularity. Nielsen forecasts that smartphones will overtake contemporary feature phones in the U.S. market by Christmas.
Howdyshell designs small business apps like the Little Grill’s for $500. The app is free for consumers to download.
The Dayton resident said apps provide an interactive way for companies to get customers involved in the products or services they provide.
For the Little Grill, the app helps to keep people updated on special deals and in the loop with blog updates. There’s a prize in it for them, too. A perfect score on the Little Grill quiz earns customers a free bumper sticker.
“Everyone is on their phones all the time doing things,” Chris Howdyshell said. “In the end, this is an experiment.”