As a Plano, Texas, native and the son of University of Texas alumni, Platt might’ve been pegged by most folks to stay put in the Lone Star State for college. But the now 22-year-old tech entrepreneur had different routes in mind.
“I wanted to branch off, try something new and find my own way,” says Platt, BA ’17. “When I was 15, my dad and I went to a Texas-Mizzou game, and I fell in love with campus and downtown Columbia. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, but I knew Mizzou had a lot of options.”
Platt harnessed that pioneering spirit when he and friends Dallas Hoelscher, Engr ’17, and Jeff Orr, BJ ’17, invented Maply, a location-based smartphone app for discovering and sharing events. The app was the fruit of a Reynolds Journalism Institute app-development contest.
“We realized there wasn’t a good way for people to post and learn about events happening close to them,” says Platt, now Maply’s chief marketing officer. “We wanted to be the app for people to find things to do nearby.”
The app empowers business owners and event coordinators to post happenings — such as concerts, restaurant specials or promotions — in real time based on the user’s location. Users can also post commentary and recommendations, or upload tours of their own design for friends to follow.
The app launched to rave reviews, and Maply immediately landed two major CoMo clients — True/False Film Fest and Roots N Blues N BBQ. Investors lined up, and in June 2017, the fledgling businessmen relocated to Austin, Texas, to set up shop full time.
“Austin is an events-rich city, so we felt like it was perfect,” Platt says. “Plus, there’s no income tax, which is a nice bonus.”
Maply has added St. Louis and San Francisco to its list of featured cities, and Platt says the team hopes to expand to additional exciting, dynamic locations.
"The University of Missouri helped us shape Maply through relationships with teachers and by facilitating group projects and group settings,” Platt says. “You’re going to be in situations like that your whole professional life, and by starting at Mizzou and really learning how to connect with people you don’t know, it puts you ahead of the game.”
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