Marshall students create new app for sharing stories

While attending USC, forward thinkers Zachary Goodman and Hassan Sarwar noticed students were missing an effective way to exchange stories on campus through mobile devices.

“We’re just making it easier to share stories on campus, and that’s what we really want to do,” Sarwar said. “We really think there’s no app out there that targets college students on their own and lets them share stories on campus.”

After meeting in a business entrepreneurship class, Goodman and Sarwar started brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of each other. It wasn’t until the duo was inspired to create CampusChatr, however, that they really began to develop one of those ideas.

CampusChatr is a semi-anonymous mobile app on which students from the same college campus can post stories on a feed and then vote on whether a story “rocks” or “sucks.”

Goodman, a junior majoring in business administration, is no stranger to innovation or leadership. His resume is already packed with projects, such as an ATM company he developed his freshman year. Originally from South Florida, Goodman came to USC despite his father’s ties to “that school across town” because he realized there are a lot of “gems that are at students’ disposal here.”

Sarwar, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in computer science and business administration and a minor in entrepreneurship, is no less ambitious. He started InifiniOne, a custom software development company, when he was a junior. The company, which focuses on mobile app development and e-commerce web design as well as mobile apps, has since grown since its start in 2012 to include eight engineers and designers.

The team acknowledged that  the benefits of using apps usually change over time and evolve based on the habits of the users. As such, the team plans on staying current by adapting CampusChatr to the trends of its users after it launches on March 15.

The app is relatively simple right now, but its creators plan to let it evolve based on user trends.

“We want to embrace product culture where we make sure we’re responding to the user,” Sarwar said.

Students can sign up by creating a username and four-digit password when the app officially launches. Be careful, however, because if users forget their password, there’s no way to get it back, because in order to remain anonymous on the app, CampusChatr will never ask for an email address.

Years ago, Sarwar envisioned CampusChatr as a website that had similar functionality to the app version. After discussing the idea with Goodman some time later, the two decided the idea was better suited to the medium of a mobile app. Sarwar feels that “everyone is using their phone now. No one is going to go home, go to their laptop, log in and post stuff. We wanted to bring this app to users’ palms, wherever they are.”

But how will it stand out against so many social media sites and apps already used for exchanging information? One of the unique benefits of using CampusChatr over Facebook groups such as USC Compliments is the missed connections feature.

“Let’s say you’re at a party or at Starbucks on Hoover and you make eye contact with someone and you weren’t able to talk to them,” Sarwar said. “You post it on CampusChatr and, if you go to the same school, you can message each other.”

Whereas on Facebook, someone might not want to go out on such a limb and reveal him or herself, missed connections on CampusChatr are semi-anonymous so there is no risk in contacting the person.

Sarwar explained it as “a complete messaging service but only those two people, the poster and the person that wants to message, can communicate.” Once the missed connection has been filled, it disappears so no one else can comment or “gang up on a weird situation,” Goodman said.

CampusChatr was also built with a self-reporting mechanism, which uses a complex algorithm to remove posts deemed offensive.

“We have great plans for success but it’s hard to say exactly how it’s going to be used entirely,” Goodman said. “As we’re both well-aware from our different lives and entrepreneurship, sometimes there’s one tiny service or small aspect that people love and then we’ll decide to focus on that.”