How did the founders meet and how long have you been working together? How do you delineate your roles and responsibilities? Why did you choose to work together?
We chose to work together because at the idea’s inception in 2013, we were the only two people we knew who had some background in web development, and we both cared about solving this problem enough to teach ourselves whatever else we needed to learn.
Why are you pursuing this particular idea? Do you have domain expertise in it? Have you tested it with customers? What unique insight or belief(s) do you have about this market?
The problems we’re addressing affected us personally as well as most of our friends. In freshman year, because planning for registration and getting into classes took so much time and was often during exams, Joe was often overwhelmed by the stress. As students, we know the workflows that make the most sense when planning, as well as the data that students want on each course. As for the demand, student-made sites similar to ours have been popping up at universities all across the country for years, getting strong adoption at the developers’ school, and then dying some years later after the developers graduate (one exception being CourseRank, which started at Stanford, expanded to 30 other schools, and was bought by Chegg after about a year). Most universities use one of two or three enterprise software providers (e.g. Ellucian, PeopleSoft), and so identifying the need at one Ellucian school highly suggests another Ellucian school would feel a similar need.
We’ve also conducted surveys at 20+ universities to confirm the need is universal across schools of various type (public, private, large/small enrollment). Our user count and average session duration are also an indication of the need.
Most of our competitors have tools that haven’t been updated for years and miss major pain points. For example, nearly all of our competitors assume that students know exactly what classes they want to take and that the only issue is considering all possible combinations of times that those classes are held. We’ve found that this is an invalid assumption; for instance, at least 50% of incoming students are undecided on their major, let alone know what elective classes they’ll want to take. Consequently, when building Coursicle, we first focused on improving the experience of browsing courses. In fact, we’ve found even more students use our search engine than our scheduling feature.
What is the most impressive thing that each founder has done, other than founding this startup? Any hacks, discoveries, creations awards, or insights that you're particularly proud of?
Joe - I was able to get Wi-Fi access on planes and hotels without having to pay anything by setting up what's called a TCP-over-DNS tunnel (it mixes networking protocols to get around the typical restraints). I’ve also done a few small side projects: 6tracker (featured on Engadget, BGR, and some other tech news sites, 62,000 users). estipaper.com (small tool for students). trailrloopr.com (scrapes data from Apple’s movie trailer site).
Tara - An Android mobile application that transfers and graphs data saved on MIT D-lab invented temperature/smoke sensors via NFC. I coded ~75% of the front and back-end as a volunteer in a team working with the Kasiisi Project, an NGO that works to provide fuel-efficient stoves to families in Uganda. This app was developed to help monitor the use of these stoves. Prior to this project I had no experience with mobile development or NFC.
Who is your target customer? How do you or how will you make money?
[Answered in Boomtown] [Answered in YC]
Who are your competitors? What makes you different from them? Include URLs.
[Answer in YC but add links and remove who do we fear]
What traction have you received to date?
[Answer in YC “Describe the progress you've made to date.”]
What is the next milestone your company needs to solve and how long will it take you to reach it?
[Use the first milestone mentioned in Boomtown application]
Why is your company a good fit for the Desai Accelerator? Are any of the founding team members U of M alumni? (Please note, you do NOT need to have a U of M alumni on your team in order to qualify).
Our products’ ultimate goal is to improve the college education of its student users. Coursicle was born in a university, and it makes for it to grow up in one too. None of our founding team members are U of M alumni.