(Editor’s Note: As Commencement nears, WVU Today is featuring some of the University’s most dedicated graduates. Here is the story of one of those outstanding students.)


Armand Patella III has always had grand ideas.

But it wasn’t until the West Virginia University advertising graduate was given a class project allowing him to use those ideas that he really took off – turning his project into a business.

Dana Coester, his direct marketing professor, gave Patella and his classmates an assignment to develop an idea for a practical smart phone application. Already having several ideas for applications, Patella was put in touch with a WVU University Relations/Web staff member, Dave Olsen, who could help him construct one of those ideas.

“He told me that my original idea would take a lot of work and to start small. Keep it simple,” Patella said. “An app is a vertical. You want it to do one thing.”

For information on WVU's May Commencement, go to http://commencement.wvu.edu/

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To read about other outstanding students who are graduating this May, go to Meet the Graduates.

With the help of faculty and staff, Patella learned how to lay out an application, create a site map and user interface, among other things. Through his interaction with WVU staff, Patella was introduced to other students on campus who were also working on creating smart phone applications.

After a few meetings, Patella and sophomore Logan Spears decided they would like to work together to design and build smart phone applications for businesses. They had the idea, but they weren’t sure how to get started until Patella was contacted by musician and blogger Lydia Simmons.

Patella follows Simmons on Twitter, and messaged her one day praising her work. A few days later, after reading his Twitter profile, Simmons contacted Patella to see if he would be willing to create a music application for her.

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Patella contacted Spears and got their business in motion. With help from WVU’s Entrepreneurship Law Clinic and Mindy Walls, director of the Entrepreneurship Center at WVU’s College of Business and Economics, the pair has officially established their business name, received funding from venture capitalists and signed a lease on an office. They hired their first employee this month – freshman Cory Dobson.

The application, “Sunset in the Rearview,” is expected to launch this month.

“It has been absolutely wonderful. We would not be here if it wasn’t for all of the resources at the University,” Patella said. “Up until a week ago I was still applying for jobs. This is my dream. This is what I have been trying to do for two years now. I always knew I wanted to do it, but didn’t know what shape it was going to take. Now I am in it 100 percent.”

The students aim to build their business in Morgantown and keep it in West Virginia.

“I love this state and this University,” he said. “My time in school here has been great, amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, anything different.

“We are very much about exporting from West Virginia. Here we are unique. Nobody really does what we do. We want to build a community base and help small businesses develop apps. The possibilities are endless,” he added.

But, his advertising goals are not what first brought Patella, from Baltimore, MD, to WVU – it was his love for rugby. He has played since he transferred to the University from community college his sophomore year.

“The team has been my second family,” he said. “I can’t imagine what my experience would have been like without them.”

By Colleen DeHart
WVU University Relations/News



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