September 28, 2012 by Shannon Nolan
Drexel sophomore Adam Weinstein launched UMinders.com, a free website that keeps a syllabus for every class at Drexel and helps students manage their deadlines, Sept. 24.
With its slogan “For students, by students,” UMinders aims to help Drexel students keep track of their school assignments and deadlines found on their assigned syllabi. Weinstein said he hopes that the site will reduce the stress of having to search for a class syllabus every semester.
“No one likes looking at syllab[i]. It’s annoying. With UMinders, [students] can just look at the calendar and know what to do,” Weinstein said.
According to Weinstein, using the website is a simple as signing up. Once users go to the site and make an account, they can click the “My Classes” button to find the classes they are taking and the corresponding syllabi. Once selected, the assignments for that week pop up automatically in a calendar on the site, allowing students to look at deadlines for papers, projects, quizzes, exams and anything that was scheduled on the syllabi.
If a needed syllabus isn’t listed, students can simply send the syllabus to UMinders, and the administrators do the rest, adding the due dates of assignments and updating them every week. If a user comes back to the site later, he or she will find that class added and the assignments already in the calendar.
“That’s it. It’s literally no manual labor, not like Google Calendar where you have to type in all the stuff. We do it all for you,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein said that a priority of his right now is to add a branch to the site where users receive text message notifications when a deadline is approaching. Though it is not perfected yet, students can currently log into their UMinders accounts and enter their cell phone numbers to receive notifications. When this expansion works, the goal is for students to receive reminders of upcoming deadlines. Students also have the ability to set how far in advance they would like to be reminded.
The idea behind the website came in February 2012 when Weinstein and Joe Widhson, the chief technology officer of UMinders, attended an event hosted by the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club called “How to Bootstrap.” They received advice that if they wanted to start their own company, they had to find a problem and fix it. For Weinstein, this meant class syllabi, which he found to be especially confusing freshman year.
“[The syllabus] was annoying and caus[ed] confusion for students and just required a whole bunch of extra work. Especially at Drexel, terms move fast with 10 weeks on top of everything that you’re doing,” Weinstein said. “[UMinders is] trying to be the middle ground and just make sense for everyone because that makes sense to me.”
The very next day, Weinstein said that he began pitching his idea to business classes, starting with his own Business 101 and continuing through every class in Pearlstein. He said that within a week of using his bare-manual service of sending out text message reminders to students of their personal deadlines, he had over 100 people actively using it.
“People [liked] it, saying, ‘Oh, I like this, thank you so much!’ And that’s really when we felt like we had something that we could do something with, that we could go on,” he said.
From the classrooms in Pearlstein and his room in Calhoun Hall to meetings with tech experts, Weinstein said the idea for the website grew. After actively trying to sell his point to Drexel students all winter, Weinstein said he settled down throughout the spring and summer and worked on getting the foundation for the website started and making sure that what was being offered would really help students.
Today, the website is up and running, ready to make the life of any Drexel student easier by managing his or her syllabi and keeping him or her on track with deadlines. UMinders is currently a “beta” site, which means that it is constantly being updated and perfected . Weinstein said that he would eventually like to branch the site out to colleges in surrounding areas but that he is currently focused on increasing its usage among Drexel students.
“I’m an average person, not crazy organized, went to Drexel not on scholarship. People want to do cool stuff, but I’m the kind of person to take on challenge[s],” Weinstein said. “[UMinders] took a lot of effort, but if you can make someone’s life easier, [I say] go for it. You don’t know [if] it will work until you try.”