UT students to start new social media networking business


Hipshire and Mills plan to use Hiben Media to help small, local businesses and customers find each other.
Hipshire and Mills plan to use Hiben Media to help small, local businesses and customers find each other.

In a time where the prevalence of social media grows each day, two UT students wanted more from it and decided to take action to make it better.

Mark Hipshire, a junior in chemistry, and Ben Mills, a senior in electrical engineering, are the co-founders of Hiben Media, a networking website in the making that will help users find local businesses to suit their interests and help these businesses reach out to potential customers.

“That’s where the idea was born really. Perhaps if you could create a social network, a social network specifically for businesses as a way to reach out,” Hipshire said.

Hipshire and Mills are currently waiting on funding and licensing for their website, but they are offering a survey on their site now to help them discover the wants and needs of businesses and customers so they can tailor the features on the website in the future.

“We’re actually in the process of surveying businesses and seeing their opinions on it and local individuals. We’re trying to just accumulate a decent amount of data,” Mills said. “It’s more of an opportunity to not only isolate the problem but also to figure out if the problem we feel is the actual issue is shared by others.”

Once Hipshire and Mills acquire funding and find the most frequent problems from the surveys, they said they will take several steps to combat these issues by creating a network of local businesses in the Knoxville area, using a tag-based search engine within the site, acquiring memberships from users and earning revenue.

Hipshire said the main goal of this website is to help anyone who wants to expand his or her knowledge and interests by directing them to place where they can make it happen.

“There’s people out there that do things and have a desire and passion for their own goals and want to spread it to people. So if you want to go learn to dance, you can learn to dance. If you want to learn to scuba dive, you can learn to scuba dive. Karate. Sky diving. Vid programming,” Hipshire said. “You can learn actual skills from these people, but these people are drowning or dying of solitude really because we can’t reach out to them, and they can’t find us. Right now, we just want to make it easier for people to go out, find places, and learn new things.”

The pair plan to pitch their business and ideas in November at the upcoming VolCourt series, which allows UT students to compete for funding for their projects while learning business tips at the same time.

More information on Hiben Media can be found on its website and Facebook page.

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