Featured UCA Alumni for February
I am privileged to be a featured alumni of the University of Central Arkansas this month. I had a great interview talking about my passions, building Irvin Media during college, working with other students, and bringing my talent to PrivacyStar. I hope you enjoy this interview. One thing to note first, at PrivacyStar our product is built to block phone calls and text messages, as well as file complaints to the FTC, but, as of right now, we can not block calls on the iPhone. It was stated in the interview and I just want to correct that first. This is technology we are currently working on.
The pivotal moment for Luke Irvin came when he first saw Apple CEO Steve Jobs hold up the first iPhone. That’s when he decided a career in technology was what he wanted.
“It was like, ‘That’s it. This is what I want to do,’” said Irvin, a 2011 University of Central Arkansas graduate.
He had dabbled with coding since his childhood, and was able to watch the Internet develop into the presence in our lives that it is today. Through it all, he taught himself how to write apps for the iPhone and has parlayed that into his personal business, Irvin Media, while working as a developer at PrivacyStar.
Today he watches with interest how the role of social media continues to evolve and how it can be used for commerce.
“The Internet is still growing and the Internet is probably the most powerful tool we have, but I think college students still don’t understand social media,” he said. “They see it as a way of connecting with their friends, but the only reason I like it is because I can sell stuff. Period.
“We live in an eyeballs and ears world,” he continued, “so (students) have to understand that they need to start following (buying habits) to understand where people are going and where to go sell stuff.”
In this brave new world, Irvin sees the evolving technology regarding app development as a game-changer that will permeate every aspect of our lives. The apps he has personally developed through Irvin Media include a coloring book app aimed at children, an app for writing a resume and one for finding military bases across the country. Additionally, at PrivacyStar he works with the app that helps Android and iPhone users block unwanted calls and messages as well as provide its users with directory assistance and caller i.d.
“I spend every day communicating with thousands and thousands of people and listening to them to find out what they want and building a product to fit what they need,” he said.
That mentality meshes well with his role as an intrapreneur at PrivacyStar, which is described by the American Heritage Dictionary as "A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.”
“I do what I love, which that’s what makes it kind of easy. PrivacyStar is great because it’s working with mobile apps, which is what I love. Mobile (apps) are huge right now. I go into PrivacyStar already having over a year’s experience, so I have something under my belt that I can bring to the table,” Irvin said.
“It’s really just helped them evolve their culture. I’m learning from them as much as they’re learning from me and this way . . . I’m a hands-on guy. I want to get the dirt under my fingernails and actually learn something and that allows me to bring a lot more experience to the table.”
The fact that Irvin has started his own business, in addition to teaching himself how to develop the apps, is an important quality to those in the startup industry.
“That’s what they’re looking for and that’s what they want to hire,” he said. “They want people who have experience doing something because they know that they already love doing this so they’re not going to have any issues with them. They want to keep pushing you to be better and better and better.”
He has also returned to his alma mater for speaking engagements, in addition to speaking at events such as BarCamp in Conway and Jonesboro, emphasizing the importance of loving your work over pursuing a paycheck.
“Legacy is greater than currency,” Irvin said. “Students do not need to leave college thinking that they need to go chase that paycheck, because that’s just going to get away from them doing what they love. If you’re doing what you love and you’re executing on that, the money’s going to come. You have to have patience.”