MSU grad to host iPhone app programming conference

Want to change the framework of a city? There’s an app for that. Or, more specifically, an app conference.

On Feb. 2nd, MSU alumnus Mike Vichich will host the first annual Detroit Mobile City iOS Conference in Detroit, an event designed to teach aspiring programmers the skills necessary to design apps for iPads and iPhones.

“The conference is the idea that we want to build the tech scene in Detroit,” Vichich said.

When Vichich tried to build his own app years ago, there wasn’t a way to quickly learn how to build an iPhone app. This led him to begin his start-up company, Develop Detroit.

“Basically, (Develop Detroit is) just a 10-week boot camp where we teach you how to build an app,” he said. “You walk out 10 weeks later with all the skills, knowledge and connections needed to be a really good iOS developer.”

Vichich hopes that the conference will not only teach aspiring programmers how to create apps, but also put Develop Detroit on the map.

After graduating from MSU in 2006, Vichich since has worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture. Although he traveled the country working for major companies such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems Inc., he still thought about his home state of Michigan.

“I always lived in Michigan and was passionate about growing the economy here and making it a more desirable place to live and work,” he said. “Detroit is a massive part of me, and I always had a passion for trying to help the city.”

As Vichich traveled for his company, he realized that he could earn money by taking advantage of the rewards offered by credit card companies.

“I basically found out by looking at the numbers, that you could earn a couple thousand more in rewards a year if the right credit card was in your wallet and you use them at the right time,” he said. “It’s hard for a student, without spending much money, to earn $2,000 a year in rewards.”

That realization, along with the growth of the mobile smartphone industry, inspired him to create his own iOS app, Glyph, to helps maximize credit card rewards when making purchases.

“Over the course of a year, they say the average person in the United States loses $600 in rewards because they don’t have the right (credit) cards,” he said. “So that’s what got me interested in mobile and iOS.”

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Vichich believes that apps are the future of society, and that skilled app programmers have an easy ticket to employment after graduation.

“Everything is going to mobile, and it’s going to completely change commerce, it’s going to change how we communicate,” Vichich said. “It’s going to continue to do that.”

MSU associate professor Forrest Carter, who is involved with the Detroit Mobile City iOS Conference, believes that the revitalization of Detroit is tied with the development of small, technology-driven businesses.

“Once people gain that ability, I think we’re going to have the same kind of economic boom, and I think that’s what Develop Detroit is contributing to,” he said.

Develop Detroit student coordinator and accounting senior Justin Burkard works closely with Vichich. He said that Vichich envisions the blossoming tech scene as a big part of Detroit’s future.

“Right now when you think of the tech scene, you’re thinking California or maybe Colorado,” Burkard said. “He wants Michigan to be a viable place. He doesn’t want people to leave Michigan and go to California. He wants Detroit to be the Silicon Valley of the Midwest.”

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