App designer
with UNK
roots finding
national success
F
OCUS 2013
Living & Learning
By EMILY NOHR
Omaha World-Herald
KEARNEY — Travis Holl-
man was randomly scrolling
through his junk email when
he stumbled upon one urging
him to check out a New York
Times review of the “My
StuffFinder” — the app his
Kearney company’s program-
mers and designers developed.
“I clicked on it and I saw the
photo of our app at the top and
I saw 30 comments at the bot-
tom,” Hollman said. “I thought,
‘How cool is that?’”
In a city where industries
such as manufacturing and
agriculture are king, Hollman
Media is designing and devel-
oping custom websites, mobile
websites and mobile apps that
not only grow the business but
also create technology-related
jobs that will keep graduates
home and draw workers to
their rural community.
City officials say the compa-
ny fits with the vision they
have for Kearney. Hollman’s
five staff members all are grad-
uates of the University of
Nebraska at
Kearney.
“Technology
is a growth
industry,”
Mayor Stan
Clouse said. “So
if people want
to come back to
Kearney and
have good-pay-
ing jobs and
come back and raise their fami-
lies in this area, we want to
help promote the types of jobs
and industries that are attrac-
tive.”
Hollman and his wife,
Angela, were still students at
UNK in 2000 when, beginning
with no venture capital, they
took on projects to do at home
between classes. The first year,
they lost $300 on $1,500
income.
Years passed and business
started to pile up as companies
realized the value in a web and
mobile presence. Some of
Hollman’s first major projects
included WeatherThreat.com, a
school and weather-related
closings network, and Pick-
MyTickets.com, a local online
ticketing system used by the
UNK athletic department and
the Tri-City Storm hockey
team.
UNK Athletic Director Jon
McBride said timing was
everything. The athletic depart-
ment needed a ticketing serv-
ice, and Hollman needed work.
Their pricing expectations met
up, and the athletic department
decided to give the local com-
pany a try.
PickMyTickets.com, which
is still in use today, automated
UNK’s ticketing system,
allowed the school to print its
own tickets and, perhaps most
important, McBride said,
“brought our ticketing system
into the modern ages.”
“He spent numerous hours
investing his own blood, sweat
and tears into the system,”
McBride said. “And I know a
lot of that had to do with it was
for UNK.”
Hollman started hiring about
five years ago, and his goal for
2012 was to establish an
aggressive internship program
and use students coming out of
UNK’s technology-related pro-
grams.
About the time he settled on
that goal, he got an email from
Allison Hatch, program coordi-
nator for InternNE, a state-
funded initiative through the
Nebraska Department of Eco-
nomic Development that gives
some for-profit businesses
financial help in offering
internships. Hollman was skep-
tical at first.
“I had a real tunnel vision
focus on what I wanted to do
and thought (InternNE) would
slow us down,” he said. “I
called her and gave her the old
what about this, what about
this, what about this? But it
sounded like actually it was a
great program, and I was really
surprised.”
InternNE agreed to fund 60
percent of an intern’s wages,
and Hollman decided to give it
a shot. Hollman Media joined
228 other Nebraska companies
that have taken part in the pro-
gram since June 2011.
Hatch said it was obvious
from the beginning that Holl-
man wanted to bring interns
into the company in hopes of
keeping them full time after
graduation.
“(The interns) weren’t just
invited to meetings and then
got to do busy work,” she said
“They get to know what the
business is like and know what
the tough decisions are like.”
At a technology breakfast at
UNK at this time last year,
Hollman met Ryan Levell.
Impressed by what a colleague
remembered about Levell from
college, Hollman asked him to
come in and interview.
The two hit it off, and Levell
started his internship in March.
Hollman later asked him to
program an app that would
help PickMyTickets.com work
on newer computers. Hollman
thought it would take Levell all
summer to complete.
“After a week, it was done. It
was ready to
go,” Hollman
said. “I looked at
him and thought,
‘Wow. This is
good.’”
Levell, who
graduated in
December with a
degree in com-
puter science
comprehensive,
joined Hollman full time after
graduation and was the pri-
mary programmer on the My
StuffFinder app. The app helps
users find commonly mis-
placed items by using map-
ping, camera and GPS features,
promising to get users within
16 feet of the lost item.
“This is the lost-and-found
of apps,” said the New York
Times review. “It not only lets
you find your car, but your
keys, glasses, wallet, shoes and
purse too. Just save the loca-
tion of various items, and the
app will direct you back to
them.”
Before the Times review, the
app had about 100 installations
per day. After the review,
downloads shot up to about
1,000 per day, and the app
reached No. 54 in the Lifestyle
category of the iTunes store.
It wasn’t Hollman’s first app
to make it onto the iTunes list.
The app version of Weath-
erThreat made it to No. 23 in
the Weather category in iTunes
and spent a couple consecutive
weeks in the Top 50 during a
bad weather spell on the East
Coast.
Both the WeatherThreat and
My StuffFinder apps are free,
but they also have upgraded
versions for a fee. My
StuffFinder Plus is 99 cents
and has no limit on the number
of items a user can save.
A Cozad native, Levell said
the notoriety is nice, but he’s
more excited that his job gives
him a chance to do something
he enjoys close to home.
“I fell into it,” he said. “It’s
really fun. I like problem solv-
ing.”
Without InternNE, Hollman
said, he wouldn’t have had the
funds to support Levell. His
aspirations for his company are
to double its workforce in the
next few years and eventually
be a premier app maker in the
state.
In addition to their finder
and weather apps, the compa-
ny’s working on apps for a few
radio stations and in the plan-
ning stages on an app for a
landscaping company.
Hollman believes the addi-
tion of workers such as Levell,
who may have otherwise
moved away to find a job in
programming, and the help of
InternNE give him the edge to
meet that goal.
“People are starting to real-
ize in central Nebraska you
don’t have to go outside of
Nebraska. You don’t have to go
east of the Missouri River,” he
said. “You can get that all in
Nebraska from Nebraska talent
and the Nebraska university
system.”
Courtesy of GM Photoz
TRAVIS HOLLMAN
, right, works with Rocky Steinbrink of Steinbrink Landscaping and Garden Center in Kearney. Hollman Media
got some attention from The New York Times a couple weeks ago when the paper reviewed its “My StuffFinder” app.
“I clicked on it and I
saw the photo of our
app at the top and I
saw 30 comments at
the bottom. I thought,
‘How cool is that?’”
Travis Hollman
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