Each time someone downloads the new HottyToddy.com app on their iPhone or Android, they are availing themselves of cutting-edge digital technology developed for HottyToddy.com parent company New Media Lab by Ole Miss marketing whiz Jeff Hamm III.
The Tupelo native and Ole Miss senior is part of a new generation of tech-savvy thinkers and entrepreneurs. Unlike most IT developers, Hamm does not have the typical computer techno credentials such as code writing in his educational portfolio. But that didn’t stop him from creating and developing the popular HT.com app that, to date, has been downloaded by more than 3,500 on-line readers and counting.
“I call myself a duck tape developer,” says Hamm. “You don’t have to have the technical skills. I can find a different way to get something done.”
For the HT.com app, one that readers describe as fast, fun and easy to navigate, Hamm found a do-it-yourself publisher that allowed him the luxury of trying out the platform on-line before buying it.
“We set out to do an app for the Grove,” Hamm said, adding that he and HottyToddy.com publisher Dr. Ed Meek wanted to create a mobile platform that allowed the tens of thousands of tailgaters who come to the Grove to connect with each other during home-game weekends.
The project quickly evolved, however, into a full-scale app to make it easy for HottyToddy.com readers to access all of the content and social media to be found on the all-digital news and information source launched last fall.
“I found another online service that lets you create an app that has an awesome number of features. It really only took a week to make. Getting approval from Apple was the long part.”
Readers can simply touch the icon on their mobile phone and read all of the news, entertainment, sports and business on the site via their I-Phone or Android.
‘The luxury of using the company I found is, on their platform, they have a standardized approach so there’s no need to develop separate apps for I-Phone and Android. You can build them both at the same time.”
From anywhere, the app also allows readers to peruse HT’com’s Experience Oxford Guide and its interactive guide to the upcoming Double Decker Festival. “The iPhone changed the world and how people can send and get information. Everything is instant now.”
The app has transformed the way people look at HT’s online guides, Hamm says.
“People have really responded to them. The website guide really took off when it was viewable on a mobile phone. My vision was to turn the app into a Swiss Army knife for people who are in Oxford.”
The latest tweak to the HT.com app, he says, is the mobile coupon feature for local businesses.
“This allows app users to claim coupons from restaurants and other retailers without the hassle of having to print them out and physically take them to the business for redemption. Our advertisers can set a certain amount of coupons to be claimed. Or offer an unlimited number.”
That is exciting, Hamm says, “because no one has ventured into digital coupon directories in Oxford.”
Another noteworthy feature of the app that is particularly useful at an event such as the upcoming Double Decker Festival this weekend is the social aspect.
“The HT.com app lets people upload photos of their cool purchases and favorite booths with their friends. What the Shout Out feature does is make it easy to share the Double Decker experience to the HottyToddy.com community.
The newest HT.com app feature in development now is the “Find Me In The Grove” utility that will be available to readers in time for the 2013 Ole Miss football season.
“It will allow visitors all over the campus to post their location, a photo of their tent and other information so that anyone can be found among the thousands on campus,” Hamm says.
Although he did not plan it that way, Hamm says his marketing studies have positioned him well in the new digital age of news and information.
“Marketing lets me get experience in new media journalism, which I enjoy a lot. It is really cool to see the parallels between marketing and journalism. I originally felt that they were separate entities, but both fields have begun to pivot in each other’s direction.” –– Michael Harrelson, editor, HottyToddy.com.