A University of Wisconsin alumnus who ran his first tech startup out of Chadbourne Hall is continuing to make waves in the software world eight years after his graduation.

Jon Hardin is a 2008 UW graduate and the founder, president and CEO of Hardin Design and Development, a custom software company that makes mobile and web applications for other companies.

The company takes in a broad range of different projects each year and has produced hundreds of apps over the last several years, Hardin said.

“We are willing to work on just about any kind of technology development project,” Hardin said. “It’s not just creating mobile apps or web apps; we will do pretty much anything, and that I think sets us apart from other companies that try to be more of a niche company.”

The company works for both local firms and large corporations like Toyota, Disney and IBM on projects ranging from the mundane to the remarkable, Hardin said.

Hardin said some examples of the more interesting projects his company has worked on over the years include a mobile marketing tool for Disney and a personal-safety app called Lifeline Response.

The latter app dispatches police to a user’s location if the user removes their thumb from their phone’s screen and fails to disarm the app. Lifeline Response has been successfully used in threatening situations and has prevented bodily harm from befalling its users, Hardin said.

“Lifeline Response has been deployed on college campuses throughout the U.S. and has already prevented multiple sexual assaults, so that’s cool,” Hardin said.

Before Hardin began pioneering innovative apps like Lifeline Response through his company, however, he was diligently working toward his computer science degree at UW.

Hardin lived in Chadbourne Hall when he founded his first startup with his roommate and friends around 2006.

Hardin and his friends created an online video-streaming service called Inzüm — essentially an early predecessor to Hulu — and ran the service from the dorm.

“We were basically all college freshmen and sophomores running this company out of our dorm,” Hardin said.

Hardin’s company soon caught the attention of NBC, which made a deal with Inzüm allowing the service to stream 30Rock, The Office and other NBC shows.

The Inzüm team participated in the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at UW that year and took third place. Shortly after, though, NBC and Fox founded Hulu as a joint venture and voided Hardin’s contract with NBC, essentially killing Inzüm.

“NBC realized the value of what they had and decided they weren’t just going to license content to a bunch of freshmen in the dorms,” Hardin said. “So I ended up looking for something to do after that.”

Determined to keep chasing his entrepreneurial aspirations, Hardin founded Hardin Design and Development in the middle of finals week his second semester of sophomore year.

Using the many connections he’d made during Inzüm’s brief lifespan, Hardin tracked down and signed three clients for his new firm during finals week and worked on development projects throughout his sophomore summer. He was able to attain office space just off the Capitol Square six months after the firm’s inception.

Despite of his firm’s rapid growth and success, Hardin decided not to go the way of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and drop out of college to pursue his venture full-time. Instead, he opted to pursue his venture full-time while graduating early. Hardin worked 80 hours per week at his own firm while studying computer science full-time, and ultimately completed his degree in only three years in 2008, he said.

“I’m a very proud alumnus of UW,” Hardin said. “I’m definitely appreciative of the degree and of the opportunities UW gave me.”