During orientation on Thursday, August 20, MBA and MAM Class of 2017 students had a variety of choices: Would they vote for an app that helps businesses donate leftover food to local charities? Or, would they pick another app that connects potential language learners with new pen pals?
The proposals were among dozens generated by their classmates as part of the Global Mobile Communication Challenge, an exercise in which incoming students work in teams to generate solutions to a meaningful challenge somewhere in the world.
While students considered these hypothetical innovations, they were utilizing an actual new app developed by a fellow student. Nick Andris ’16 created oVote to help decision-makers gather feedback quickly, and to give people more influence over the decisions that affect their lives. As students pitched their ideas to their classmates during Thursday’s orientation project, they voted for the best ones using Andris’s app.
Andris said he created oVote in response to what he perceived as a need for a platform that would allow users to quickly ask and respond to questions within a group they created. He determined that a website would prove too slow for technology users who increasingly rely on their mobile devices. oVote uses push notifications to keep group members updated about questions and responses.
“Surveys and links in emails get skipped over, but push notifications hit people immediately,” explained Andris. “If you can deliver a question via push notification, you could get a million people to share their thoughts with you in a minute. Companies could know what to sell people, politicians can know how to govern, and Taylor Swift could know which dress to wear to the Oscars.”
Andris, who participated in the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Venture Creation Program and is a member of the Entrepreneurship Club, said he met with school administrators prior to orientation to discuss using the app and immediately received positive feedback. SOM’s culture bolsters students’ confidence in their ideas, he said.
“I’ve always loved this school, and a lot of luck had to break for this to work out like this,” said Andris. “This embodied the collaboration that SOM prides itself on.”