GoWild is a new iOS app recently released by a small team including Ball State alumnus Zach Grimes.

The app was created to give those with a passion for the outdoors a safe place to engage, interact, learn and post about their experiences. 

The original idea for the app came from co-founder Brad Luttrell, who wanted to give outdoorsmen the chance to share their passion with a community that has similar interests and would not be upset by the content.

“Instead of ignoring hunting and fishing posts, some people who disagree are flagging the posts,” Luttrell said.

Grimes said the main issue with other social media platforms is that users “follow people, not content,” which keeps them from having a personalized experience based on their interests. 

For GoWild to be different from other social media, Luttrell needed someone who had a background in analytics, which is why he approached Grimes. 

Grimes studied data science at Northwestern University, but he feels his time at Ball State as an undergraduate is what prepared him for jobs and projects such as GoWild. 

At Ball State, Grimes said he was involved in organizations like the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and was mentored by many faculty members, including Michael Hanley, associate journalism professor, and Lori Byers, associate dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media.

Both Byers and Hanley praised Grimes for his hard work and drive to succeed. 

“He was one of my top media planning and research students and led the 2008 and 2009 research team for the AAF National Student Advertising Competition,” Hanley said. “What I really liked about Zach was how curious he was about always finding the right answer. That's the sign of the great advertising person.”

Grimes said his instructors' advice to work outside of his comfort zone allowed him to develop his work ethic. 

“He not only rises to challenges, he purposely pursues challenges that others would avoid to raise his own personal bar,” Byers said. 

Grimes had to apply all of the knowledge he learned through his experiences in order to create the app in one year. Despite a short deadline, the app was also designed to have many different functions. 

Users can share photos and log achievements to track their records. The app will also make recommendations - like where to hunt, fish, hike or camp - based off of activities the user posts about. 

“The app learns how to score based off of a machine learning algorithm that is constantly tweaking itself,” Grimes said. “A buck killed in Montana might not be the same as a buck killed in Indiana. It takes into account the time of year and weather to analytically score that animal too.”

While the app is constantly learning to adapt to each user, Grimes and the rest of the team are also working on the app. The team hopes to make the app available to Android customers in the future as well.