HSEHS Senior Ben Dennis helms own mobile application business, leads student developers
A mobile application developer based out of Fishers recently hit the 500,000 overall download mark.
The developer does not have a degree in information systems or computer science, though he plans on attending college in the future.
Ben Dennis of Dennis Tech, LLC is a Hamilton Southeastern High School Senior. His own company is responsible for launching mobile applications for various clients including a Texan looking for a new tax app, a doctor who wanted to give new parents information on caring for their newborns and a trucking company looking for a new marketing tool.
In addition to running his own company, Dennis is the president of BitWise Fellows, a group of students that craft tech solutions for various groups, including not-for-profits. The Fellows are part of a division of BitWise Solutions, a local web site development company.
On top of that, he codes on the side for another company. And on top of that, he’s the vice president of DECA at HSEHS. And a member of the Finance Academy. And involved with the HSE School District Technology Committee.
How does he do it?
“With school, let’s just say that it’s a lot of late nights and a lot of caffeine to get me through that,” Dennis said.
Building a career
Dennis’s path began a few years back, long before today’s caffeine-fueled work sessions. He started putting together applications for palm pilot and web operating systems in 2008. However, he admits he’s been enamored with technology since the first “The Brave Little Toaster” movie that had a computer character.
“I started doing palm apps, just like fun, stupid little stuff that I just thought was entertainment for myself,” he said, “and then I kind of realized I know how to do this, and so there’s no reason that I can’t charge money for it or make money doing it.”
Dennis began bidding on projects online to get work.
In his dealings with clients and projects, he mostly communicates to customers by e-mail and phone calls. He’s even tried his hand at outsourcing a piece of a project to India – which he never plans on doing again. Instead, Dennis sometimes employs other students to work on projects with him.
Since then, Dennis was asked to contribute to the HSE Schools District Technology Committee. Dennis Tech designed an app for teachers to use for professional development during the HSE 21 initiative.
The application itself is still in production, according to Dennis.
Moving forward, Dennis wants to start putting together mobile applications for restaurants, bars and clubs that include online reservations, targeted coupons and more.
“Those venues are looking for a way to be able to connect with customers more,” Dennis said, “and I don’t know if there’s really a better way than something you carry around in their pocket.”
The balancing act
Working on three different businesses is something Dennis has to deal with outside of class.
Like every high school student that ever was, school spills over into other parts of the day – except the other parts of the day involves business for Dennis.
While at HSEHS, Dennis works on projects for different classes that don’t always amount to real-world execution. However, when he sits down with the BitWise Fellows, it is evident that the work they do could have just as easily been assigned by an HSEHS teacher.
“Ben’s leadership with the Fellows, all the way from recruiting, hiring and management, ensures the right team is producing the right products for their clients,” Ron Brumbarger, president and CEO of BitWise Solutions, told Current in Fishers via email.
He said classes like entrepreneurship, advanced placement computer science and ACP composition (a college-level composition course) contribute to skills he uses outside of the classroom.
When the school week comes to a close, Dennis continues to work on projects, sometimes turning off his iPhone 5, which he waited in line for, to shut out social distractions.
Cramped scheduling and shutting the iPhone off aside, he still has favorite aspects of his work, especially with the BitWise Fellows.
Dennis said, “It’s just really cool to develop this one cohesive team.”