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Mariah Rucker is the founder and CEO of the mobile app development company Apptimal, LLC. Rucker is currently taking her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at California Lutheran University, after transferring from University of Virginia. Only 24 years old, Rucker is among the youngest entrepreneurs to have worked out of Hub101.

“What we do is we make mobile applications for small and medium sized businesses,” Rucker said. “Lately I have also been working with individuals who have creative ideas on platforms they would like to create and release.”

Apptimal is a one-stop shop for small business owners, providing the tools and support necessary to grow their customer base and personally connect with their current clients. The company was founded on the idea that small businesses are essential in every community, and with an increasingly competitive and tech-driven market, it can be hard for small business owners to maintain and elevate their place within a large corporation driven environment.

Mariah said that she recommends all college students to take a Semester at Sea. “I met the best people, and I don’t think I would have been the same person I am today without that program,” Rucker.

Rucker said she got some of the business connections she currently collaborates with through coworking at Hub101.

“I talked to Greg Monterrosa, and he connected me with people who had creative ideas on platforms they wanted to make,” Rucker said. “I met people at Hub101 who wanted to create, which was really cool.”

Because she started the company this year, Rucker said she has not had the opportunity to see the company at its full potential yet, because she still works as a personal assistant in Malibu, which takes up a lot of her time.

“So, this next year I’m cutting down my hours, and I’m going to work for myself full-time. Hopefully, within that your, I’ll be able get it running all by itself. That’s the goal,” Rucker said.

Rucker never expected to have her own company, and that it all started through her job as a personal assistant. As a personal assistant, she would often go get lunch for her boss at a local soup place, SoLé SoupS. However, in order to find out what the soup of the day was, she would have to either physically walk into the store, or call an automated system that would tell her what it was.

“So, she would send me there, and I would have to send her all the different soups of the day, and I would be waiting there 30 to 40 minutes for her to respond. After that, I decided that I could make this process easier by creating an app,” Rucker said.

While waiting, she asked the employees at the soup shop why they did not just have an app where customers could see the menu and send in their orders, in order to pick them up later. While pitching her idea, Rucker said she got comments and positive feedback from other customers present at the shop, who told her that was a good idea.

Apptimal was founded on the idea that small businesses are essential in every community.

“So, I ended up developing that app in a week, and when I told my boss’ friends about it, they wanted me to make them an app,” Rucker said.

This is when she got the idea to turn her talent into a company, and since then she has had several people contacting her to make apps for them, with a total of six projects done since she started the company in July, 2019. Rucker now has her own platform out, and is also working on some other customized platforms.

“I had no idea this would happen, to be honest,” Rucker said, laughing.

Ina Svanes, student worker at Hub101, said the idea behind Apptimal is amazing, and that this is a company that could benefit anyone who has a business idea.

“I really like the concept. Anyone who wants to start a company today should have an app for their services, because people today are so busy and want to have easy access to products and services. I don’t think there is any better way to communicate with customers than through their phones, because this is the device where they spend most of their time, and what they rely the most on,” Svanes said.

Apptimal helps connect small businesses with future clients.

Rucker got her experience with app development from University of Virginia, where she was an engineering mathematics student. The major required her to take coding classes, which she performed very well in.

“Even when I was younger and had a Myspace account, I was always the one coding on my account, and it has always just come natural to me,” Rucker said.

If Rucker could give one recommendation to current undergraduate students, it is to take a Semester at Sea.

“It shapes who I am and how I think, and it inspired me to go after my ideas. They hands down offer the best study abroad program out there. You live on a ship with 900 other college students from all around the world, and you get to travel around the world with them while receiving college credits,” Rucker said.

Her future plans involve applying for dental school, but she wants the company to run itself before she goes continues with her education.

Rucker is currently working on the project “One Party Stop,” which launches in May 2020.

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