Who better to design a platform for college students than a college student? As a full-time student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Marcell Purham developed Semester Planner as a collaborative app that allows students to keep track of every aspect of their school life.
Purham is an interesting entrepreneur to examine, and it is because he took every opportunity to extend his idea beyond himself. What began as a solution to his personal problems now solves the problems of countless other students.
When Purham entered a 48-hour hackathon in Chicago, he had a lot on his mind regarding school. Namely, he was having trouble finding specific notes from previous classes, keeping track of assignments was a nightmare, and sharing notes with classmates often meant never seeing them again.
“When I got to the hackathon, I figured why not create a platform that lets me solve all of these problems,” says Purham.
About a year later, Semester Planner was completed and fully operational. But the journey was not an easy one for Purham as he kept with his initial work from the hackathon.
He desperately wanted to work on the platform during the week, but he had to focus on quizzes, tests, and papers for his classes. That often meant giving up his free time and weekends to work on Semester Planner.
As he continued to develop the platform, he noticed there was a guiding philosophy forming behind it that would help to drive him forward. So he embraced that fact that Semester Planner went beyond a way to simply assist students by offering them a way to grow and become the academic individuals they had always wanted to be.
This has been the continual theme throughout the process of development for Purham: starting in one direction but being open minded enough to recognize multiple other paths to travel down as well. To that end, Semester Planner has become a platform that effectively offers opportunities to learn outside the classroom via collaborative feedback, paper editing, study sessions, and information sharing.
Purham could have stopped his work after the hackathon, but he kept his thoughts and ideas tailored to a specific issue he saw in the student’s world. He could have easily let his grades suffer as he built Semester Planner, or vice versa, but he never gave up and succeeded in both worlds.
“As we continue to grow and listen to our user base, I can see us eventually expanding and helping students of different education levels,” says Purham.
The planned growth is a multi-step process, starting with Purham using word of mouth marketing to get students at his university and other schools in Chicago on the platform. From there, the dream would be to expand to America at large before heading international to help students out worldwide.
Semester Planner was featured at Tech Cocktail’s Chicago Mixer & Startup Showcase on September 26th.