Just in Time for Registration: Coursicle App
Ross Reelachart | Technology Editor
ODU may have access to a slick web interface for getting students registered for classes, but it’s not perfect and it certainly doesn’t keep students completely abreast of the availability of coveted seats in a class. Coursicle, a web-based online service with a mobile application component, is a way to have an edge in getting a precious seat in a popular class. I interviewed Coursicle co-founder Joe Puccio to learn about what his app could offer ODU students now that it has launched on our campus and also, what it’s like developing and managing your own app.
Coursicle is an online service that “allows college students to easily browse classes and plan their class schedule,” with the ODU-specific class catalog being accessible at www.coursicle.com/odu/. While such class scheduling aids are not unknown to most students, Coursicle provides an extra bit of aid with its accompanying mobile application. Available on iOS and Android, the Coursicle app will immediately alert a student if a seat has opened up in a specified class via a push notification. So if a class is particularly quick to fill-up, a student can quickly pounce on the opportunity to get a seat once it becomes available. Plus, Coursicle offers a less tedious and visual way to search and plan classes that most schools don’t offer.
First launched at UNC Chapel Hill in 2011, Coursicle was the result of Puccio only getting into one of the classes he needed during his first year at UNC. In response, he wrote himself a prototypical version of Coursicle that texted him whenever a seat opened up. A friend suggested he open this program up to other students. One partnership with co-founder Tara Aida and 1800 student users later, they decided that they needed to add a way to figure out a good class schedule to go along with a seat finder. Finally, when the volume of texts that their program was sending became so great that Verizon began blocking them, they moved to iOS and Android. From there it took off and saw usage across multiple campuses, and became the full-time job of both Puccio and Aida.
From starting as a target solution to a niche problem to growing into the job of its makers, Coursicle can serve as an example for aspiring entrepreneurs and app developers at ODU. Puccio described the process of developing and managing Coursicle full-time. “[Our situation] is very exhausting and unique to [us] because our product is seasonal. It’s strange going between very busy times at the beginning of a semester and relaxed times after everyone has registered.” But despite their team of two handling everything, they liked it. The busy times let them gather usage data for improvements, and the down times let them prepare updates or work on small side projects.
When asked if he had any advice for those looking to get into full-time app development, Puccio advised starting small. “Keep it as a side project for as long as possible, until you see a lot of traction. Only when you need to dedicate all your time to it should you develop full-time.” Puccio described how Coursicle was basically a weekend project at the beginning, and you shouldn’t immediately “jump into it full-time.” Puccio also offered advice on launching an app. “Find a small niche where [your app] might be useful, and focus on them.” He emphasized that “having ideas” isn’t enough if you can’t get your product in front of people, and then have those people use it.
Coursicle can serve as both useful tool students, especially freshmen unfamiliar with course self-registration, and as an example for start-up app development and launch. Coursicle can be found on the web, iOS and Android. People interested in joining the Coursicle team can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.