There are over 20,000 students enrolled at the U of M and it is challenging for students to hear about every event happening on campus and in the community.
Cole Roe, a spring 2014 alum, has put his political science degree aside to help connect students through his cellular app, “Uin.”
“The initial idea for the application was to give incoming students a ‘centralized hub’ to inform students on what’s going on around campus, and help those who are new to campus learn ‘how-to-college,” Roe said.
The app officially launched May 2014 as a beta trial for the orientation sessions. The new official launch was the first week of this fall semester.
Now the developer has broadened the vision of the app. Instead of just targeting student involvement and engagement, Roe is now trying to capture what “the college experience” actually is. Roe said he wants to make a visual impact on “the college experience.” This way, students can have the option to get rid of Twitter and Facebook and have just one app that focuses on the relevancy of college events.
“People are lazy,” 19-year-old nursing major Channa Burkhead said. “In this day and time we focus on technology. People don’t look at flyers anymore.”
In Uin anyone can list events- students and organizations. However, organizations must first be verified through the university as a registered student organization to appear as one. If a student just wants to list that their friends are going out to play Frisbee, the app allows them to list this event as a singular person.
The app has 21 different tags ranging from “philanthropy,” “religious,” “meetings” and even as simply as “free” events. Students can even post “parties” on the app. This was created to help the users browse easier for specific events they are interested in.
“Although a group of guys getting together isn’t what the university considers student involvement, we still allow it,” Roe said. “We’re trying to facilitate a new redefined idea of what student involvement looks like.”
Current users, in order to see their campus events, can only register if they have an “edu” email. Roe hopes to get CBU and Rhodes on board with the app, and if so, when students register, they will only be able to see their campus events.
“We are working with university officials, and we are hoping to get this officially supported by the university,” Roe said.
Roe would like for the university to sign or at least discuss an annually recurring contract before the spring semester. The contract will support the platform, by helping the company survive while giving the app for free to students.
Mike Hoffmeyer, the director of the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, pushed Roe into pursuing his own idea of connecting the community and what’s actually happening. Hoffmeyer worked with Roe in the beginning stages of the app and says that Cole is the “poster child for what we want to see in a student entrepreneur.”
Cole was a student in the first Crews Center Entrepreneur Fellows program. This program is designed to give students a hand-on experience of how to understand and develop entrepreneurial aptitudes and eventually launch a project.
“Cole followed everything we taught him,” Hoffmeyer said. “He designed Uin specifically to meet the needs that students here at U of M told him they were experiencing.”
Uin is now working on ways to present their app more visually on U of M campus. The company has passed out over 3,000 flyers on campus. They even went as far as writing on whiteboards and leaving “desk pops” on desks advertising the app. Uin is projected to have between 2,000 – 5,000 students join by the end of this semester.
“We want people to understand it’s not just an app,” Roe said. “It’s actually bringing the community together in a way they have never been able to be brought together before.”