For two University students, taking notes on paper and laptops have become an antiquated from of academic engagement.

Instead of using existing forms of note-taking like the fast fleeting pen and paper, and Microsoft Word, Business juniors Alex Schiff and Chase Lee are hoping their new start-up, Fetchnotes, will become the standard for documenting information in lectures as well as personal reminders and communicating with others.

Fetchnotes, a note-taking application designed by Schiff and Lee after they took an entrepreneurship class at the University, enables users to create, send and receive notes. It is available as a desktop, Internet and cell phone application and will be released later this month.

The mission of Fetchnotes is to provide an efficient note-taking application for users that minimizes complexity — something that inhibits other note-taking devices, said Schiff, a former Michigan Daily columnist.

“The product vision is to be the quickest, easiest way for you to keep track of tasks, ideas and anything that you want to remember,” Schiff said. “We’re trying to provide just enough of a feature set, but keep it simple enough that it’s really compelling and easy to use.”

In addition to being available online, Fetchnotes will be compatible with iPhones and Androids and accessible through texting and instant messaging. Lee said a key business strategy for the start-up is integrating Fetchnotes with other products that consumers already use such as Google Chat, Jabber and Yahoo. The product uses hash tags to organize notes by category and “@ tags” to send notes to others.

Fetchnotes will serve as an effective tool for students, especially those participating in group projects, Lee said.

“It’s an easy way to coordinate projects and to communicate,” Schiff said. “And it really makes it a lot easier for you to get things done with other people.”

To receive customer feedback on their product, Schiff and Lee had a pre-launch marketing campaign in March using a combination of social media sites. Testing for Fetchnotes was completed via a beta trial that ends at the end of November.

After the free beta period, customers can use the basic functions of Fetchnotes at no cost or purchase a premium plan for $4.99 per month, according to Schiff. The premium plan includes more services like access to more groups and texting notes.

With the exception of legal costs, Lee and Schiff funded the entire project themselves.

“We’re trying to bootstrap our business,” Lee said. “Basically, we are not taking outside investments.”

The students created the application after they took a course at the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Doug Neal, managing director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Programs and adjunct assistant professor of entrepreneurship, said Schiff and Lee further developed Fetchnotes in his entrepreneurship class, “The Practicum,” which is part of the nine-credit Entrepreneurship Certificate.

Neal said he believes Fetchnotes has the potential to be successful while simultaneously serving as a learning tool for Schiff and Lee.

“They are really embracing the entrepreneurial mindset, trying ideas and working with costumers and experimenting through a variety of business models to try to find a variety, a combination to yield success,” Neal said.

But he added that success isn’t the only thing that should be measured in the students’ pursuit.

“I think what’s really important is that we do not focus on the success of the venture. We need to be very comfortable with failures and learning from these failures,” Neal said.“Entrepreneurship — it’s about trying to do the impossible, and when you try to do the impossible, many times you will fail, but that’s OK. That’s just part of the process. You get back up and you try again.”

Schiff echoed Neal’s sentiments and said learning how to be innovative is one of the most important skills in the business realm.

“I think that this is one of the most valuable skills we picked up as entrepreneurs is knowing how to look at situations and asking, ‘How can we do this a different way?’” Schiff said.

Schiff praised Ann Arbor’s entrepreneurial atmosphere for the support the community gives to aspiring entrepreneurs. He added that he thinks the University is a “pay-it-forward community” and said he is excited Fetchnotes is a part of it.

“It’s almost shocking how supportive people are,” Schiff said. “You ask people for help, and they’re like, ‘Sure, it’s done.’”

Business junior Matt Kanterman wrote in an e-mail interview that he uses Fetchnotes to help him manage his daily affairs and stay organized.

“Fetchnotes allows me to bring all my ideas into one place easily, effectively and instantaneously,” Kanterman wrote. “It really makes it so that I can organize my life in down times, and in stressful busy times I can leave myself notes just by texting.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *