Alum Launches a Birthday App – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Alum Launches a Birthday App

Have you ever wanted to send a friend or loved one a birthday message that was more meaningful than a simple Facebook post or text message? Mark Fortunato ’08 and his colleagues recently launched a free app that will allow users to send specialized happy birthday messages to friends and family: the HBD app.

HBD allows users to wish their friends happy birthday in a unique way–through video. The calendar function reminds the user of friends’ birthdays. The user then has the option to send a message within the app, on the HBD wall, or to also share it to Facebook and Twitter. Users can purchase gifts for loved ones based on a “wish list” within the app. 

As COO of the app, Fortunato is involved in all aspect of the launch of the app, from design to marketing. He believes that a wide range of individuals will be interested in HBD.

“Birthdays are a major part of everyone’s life–you will have everyone from 12-year-olds to grandmothers using the app,” he says.

While at HWS, Fortunato majored in environmental studies and minored in economics. He was a member of the Hobart lacrosse team, the Stock Market Club and treasurer of the HWS Future Economists Society. After graduation, he went on to work at Lehman Brothers and then at publically traded hedge fund, Och Ziff Capital Management, where he spent three years performing risk management duties on derivative portfolios. Currently, Fortunato is Vice President at CapRok Capital in New York, N.Y. 

Fortunato cites his time at the Colleges, as well as his professional experiences, with preparing him for his current role with the HBD app.

“Attending a liberal arts school like HWS helped me learn how to think outside the box and release my innovative attributes due to the broad spectrum of classes that were available. My experiences in the financial services sector and the ‘real world’ have encouraged me to look at processes and come up with ways to implement efficiency and effectiveness,” he says.

The app is now available for download. For more information check out the HBD website:

Or join them at

The creators of the HBD app from left to right: Jide Ehimika (CFO), Chi Ude (CEO) and Mark Fortunato ’08 (COO). The trio met while working in New York City.

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