Emerson Planner:

14-year-old student is starting a digital daily planner app company for fellow students and needs your help.

Written on 01 Jun, 2013 by Nat Finn. Comment(s)

At the time of this writing, Kelly Schwedland and I are at Startup Weekend Cincinnati to learn how to host such an event back in Duneland / Valparaiso. For those who don’t know, Startup Weekend is a non-profit movement that brings digital designers, developers and business professionals together to come up with concepts and solutions to today’s common. These solutions are tested for feasibility with the hopes of not only winning the judging contest at the end of the weekend but, in some cases, turning the prototype into a full-blown startup tech company.

Originally, Kelly and I were going to hang out in the shadows, learn, study, appreciate from afar but not get in the way of the weekend’s natural flow. Star Trek fans would know this as the Prime Directive.

A 14-year-old-kid named Emerson changed our minds.

While watching the ideas being pitched, a 14-year-old local high school Freshmen named Emerson Walker came up and humbly presented his idea. In a soft voice and with his eyes only rarely looking from his notecards, Emerson went on to simply and succinctly explain his problem and the solution he had for it.

The Problem

His school system provided him with a spiral-bound daily planner to keep track of his school year activities. He pointed out that daily use of the planner meant that it was near disrepair by winter.

Emerson pointed out that the school used software already for calendar maintenance, but that the software didn’t included mobile and tablet devices. Most of Emerson’s friends, including Emerson, already have emails and mobile devices that they use for school work. The school even provides them with Google-hosted email accounts.

Emerson’s Solution

Emerson pitched the idea of having a digital daily planner calendar app instead of a paper planner. The would include email, sms notifications & reminders in case of assignment changes. The calendar could also be accessed by students, teachers and coaches so everyone can keep apprised of the students activities. Students could also add projects outside of school activities to keep all the plans in one place. The app would also be visible in GCal and ICal.

Another intriguing feature of the app would be the personalization students would be able to do on their app. Students could update themes, change fonts, colors, upload gravatars. This feature would allow them the freedom to style a device so they don’t get too bored referring to the device throughout the day.

The app would be for iPhone / iPad first because most of his friends used it. Later on it would also be ready for Android devices.

Emerson named the solution...

During the pitch, Emerson said the name of his idea was the, "Magic Planner.” The name has since been shortened to mPlan by his hours-old company, Emerson Planner.

[UPDATE 2013-06-02 10am ET:  After a night of letting the name marinate, Team mPlan decided to merge the company name and the product name into one name:  mPlanner!]

mPlan mPlanner’s feasibility & support

Since joining team mPlanner, we have reached out to folks from all walks of life for advice and feasibility. Kelly even started an active dialogue with the school software developer, Schoology, who has become an enthusiastic supporter of the idea. He also hit up his friend Mick Hagen, who founded successful startup Zinch that has since been bought out by Cheeg. Mick’s been helping out. I hit up my buddies Brad Best (Advertising Editor - Mizzou / RJI) and Adam Riemer (super-affiliate, Adam Riemer Marketing) who are using their generosity and influence to spread the word about the project as well as garner support. My BakedFinn partner-in-crime, Chris Bake, has been awesome. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Wendy Flynn & her daughter Ally who are cause-oriented women who have been spreading the word with help of their websites.But we can’t stop there.

How you can help Emerson and his classmates

There are two ways to help Emerson.

1) Fill out a painless survey

The first big way to help Emerson would be to fill out one of the two painless surveys below. The more information we have, the better case we can present to software companies and potential investors on Emerson’s project.

 

One page. 10 easy questions. Big shoutout to Dr. Ursula Saqui of Saqui Research for the assist in devising the questions.

 

2) Keep spreading the word

If you know anyone you think would fit the bill and would fill out the surveys, please send them along this page to the links.

If you have other ideas...

As we are writing this, we are building emersonplanner.com. It should be up around 8pm EST, June 1st, 2013 [update 2013-06-02:  new website and new web address coming!!]. That would be the best place to contact us. Twitter profile(s) & Facebook page(s) are being built and we will place links to them once they are up. We’ll have comments and contact forms. We’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, comment on this article or hit me up at twitter.com/natfinn. We’ll pass along the good words.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to us

Above all, thank you. The kid’s eyes are lit up like a kid at Christmas. His father, Ry, is on the team. They’re working side-by-side, coding, planning, developing web presences. My hope is to make this successful and show Emerson the potential of what kids can do when given a chance.

That said, I’ve got to get back and finish up my task list before Emerson gives me another warning. Once again, thank you.

We hope to hear from you soon

 
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