GV grad takes his ideas to the next level

GVL / Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews

Kari Norton

Have you ever sat around wondering what there is to do, while hoping for an instant and simple answer? Grand Valley State University graduate Ben Hoppe did.

One night, he was lying on his floor watching TV and wondered what was going on, so he starting looking at places like the BOB on his phone and thought, what if there was an app out there that had all of these deals? Hoppe took this idea even further by asking his Facebook friends if anyone knew how to make apps and sure enough, someone did.

“I was in (GVSU students’) shoes. I know at times it’s hard when you don’t have a lot of money and you want to have fun – it’s hard to do that,” Hoppe said. “This app wasn’t there when I was in school and now it’s something students can utilize when they want to have a blast but save money doing it.”

Hoppe graduated last spring with a psychology major and advertising and public relations minor. Originally, he was getting a psychology degree so that he could teach special education but a semester before he was set to graduate he chose to go in a different direction and picked up the minor because it interested him.

“This isn’t a job for me, it’s something I like to do,” Hoppe said. “I get to come back to GVSU and give students advice, I get to go to bars and interact with the managers and I know that this is beneficial to people because they get to save money and that’s kind of cool.”

Hoppe knows what it’s like to be a student at GVSU and what it’s like to stress over graduating and finding a job. He said if there’s anything he’s learned, it’s that it’s not what you know but who you know.

“There’s a lot of things that I’ve learned that you can’t learn on page 23 of a textbook,” Hoppe said. “You’d think that people would download something that was free if it gets put on Facebook – it’s not that easy.”

The West Michigan Connection app has everything you need to know about food, nightlife, taxi services and events in Grand Rapids and Allendale.

“Why would you want (the app)?” Hoppe asked. “It not only has all of these deals, but it’s going to have deals that will save you money that you can only get through me. That’s why a college kid who doesn’t really have a lot of money will need this app.”

Hoppe has recently submitted his app in a competition to get funding so that he can really get the ball rolling.

The Devos family started a business called Start Garden for start up businesses and ideas. People can post their ideas on the website and the one that gets the most votes will get to present it to the Devos’s and, if they like it, they’ll give them $5,000 to start it up.

To encourage people to vote for his idea, Hoppe has pledged that if he gets the funding he is going to fund a spring break trip for two GVSU students. Each of the students will get $500 to go wherever they want or to use in whatever way they choose.

“If my idea works in West Michigan, I want to take it to other college towns, like Kalamazoo, East Lansing, Mount Pleasant, and kind of branch off that way,” Hoppe said. “There are other businesses that are out there like me, they’re my competition, but what makes mine better is that I’m focused.”

Hoppe also plans to put up a billboard on Lake Michigan Drive, do different promotions and sporting events and sponsor Greek life events to raise awareness for his app.

“A business wants to go through me to advertise to this population and no one else does that,” Hoppe said. “That’s what makes this app, my business, better than what else is out there.”

The app is free and can be downloaded on Androids and iPhones by searching wmconnection. To vote for the West Michigan Connection app, go to : http://startgarden.com/ideas/detail/wmconnection.

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