Tell us about your venture and what inspired you to start it.
I have always been a traditional note taker, preferring to write on paper. However, my first year at Duke, I realized that college classes were extremely fast paced. It became clear that the classic paper notebooks were no longer going to be the right fit. I noticed that everyone around me diligently utilized Evernotes, Notion, and Goodnotes and decided to give it a try. However, as a Computer Science major, it was not the right fit. I longed to be able to interact with code in live time. As my professor lectured on complex topics in our coding class, I wanted to replicate that on my own screen. Additionally, as I tried to juggle my various commitments in classes and clubs, I needed a way to organize, but there was never the right app. In any one app, I could only track my monthly commitments on a layout that I preferred, while on another I could only track my weekly commitments. While I loved my ability to manage my team on one software, I couldn’t navigate live chatting capacities on another. With my past startup experience and software engineering skill set, I sought to solve the problem of note taking and productivity. I realized that there isn’t one “productivity” app that fits the needs for everyone. But what if there was? So, that’s where my startup OneDiary comes in. The secret to everyone’s success. Doesn’t matter who you are, what your goals are. You no longer need to open five different subscriptions and tabs to keep track of your work. All you need is OneDiary, your online workbench. OneDiary utilizes the principles of machine learning, behavioral neuroscience, visual storytelling, emotions, language, and intuitive UI/UX that focuses on data organization to prevent information overload. It has a variety of features ranging from easy note taking features, to content management tools, research tracking, and inbuilt plagiarism and grammar checking. Ultimately, it brings together your favorite features of the most successful productivity and note-taking apps all into one place.
What has your Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs experience been like so far, and what are you most taking away from it? Are there other ways you’re plugging into Duke’s innovation and entrepreneurship community?
Melissa has been one of the most incredible mentors I could have asked for. She is such a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman, and I look up to her and often seek her advice. Even in our shortest conversations, I leave with the most insightful and life-changing insights. In our most recent conversation, she shared that oftentimes it can be easy to get caught up in social status. College students worry too much about external appearances—looks, success, academic accolades. However, when we choose people on how they make us feel, we create the most meaningful connections. We will remember the people that checked in on us and who took the time to get to know the deepest parts of our personalities. This connects to business. The most successful branding and products are the ones that take the time to get to know the whys, specifically the customers. Why is there a problem? Why will a product be successful? Get to know the people around you. The community I have found within this program has pushed me to be the best version of myself. I am surrounded by the most intelligent and innovative people who challenge me every day. It is truly a privilege.
What’s a significant hurdle you’ve faced with your venture, how did you address it, and what was the outcome?
OneDiary is for everyone. But with a mission to make an impact in every user’s life, it can be overwhelming. It is difficult to create an app that fits the need for most individuals, if not all. Each individual has their own life and complex necessities—with each user comes a set of features. Therefore, I have tried to focus on conducting hours of user interviews. However, because much of my time has been spent on user interviews, I have not been able to spend as much of my resources on developing the interfaces and features on my app. In the end I believe that user interviews are the most integral part of developing a successful business. Users shape the trajectory of a business. Without their insights, it is impossible to understand what features are needed and what you should or should not improve. I am also learning that while I may want to make an app for everyone, there is a balance I must achieve. It is impossible to design an app that everyone will use. What I can do is try to make an inclusive platform that represents the voices of the users I talk to. I believe that with time, I have created a good balance between user insights and design by expanding my team.
What are the next steps for your venture, and what most excites you and motivates you to keep moving?
My next steps include releasing my public version of OneDiary and receiving feedback. I look forward to hearing feedback. My goal has always been to add efficiency and ease into people’s lives. I cannot wait to see people’s reactions as OneDiary enters their lives. I look forward to the iteration phases and hearing the perspectives of customers who engage with my product.
Where do you see your company a year from now?
A year from now, I see a vibrant user base whose productivity has increased, even if it is just by 1%. Even if they now have to click one less time, or need to use one less tab or app. I am thrilled to think that one year from now, I will have people who will know what OneDiary is. I hope that it can be associated with productivity apps such as Notion and Obsidian. It will take a few years for my startup to grow, but a year from now, I hope it has launched and acquired users. I want to make people’s lives easier with OneDiary.