Peter Simpson ’14 always wanted to know what was happening around Brown’s campus but never felt satisfied with the resources available. “Morning Mail was really hard to read through and took a lot of time,” says Peter. “I wanted a Morning Mail that really had the stuff I cared about. I wanted to know about archeology, computer science, and entrepreneurship.” So he came up with the idea for a website and mobile application that informs students about what’s going on around campus in a more effective way, and he found his software engineer and partner in Joe Stein ’16.
Peter describes Ventfull as a “tailored Morning Mail” that makes everything easier for students. Unlike Brown’s nightly email, where one has to jump through a couple of hoops to create a post, anyone can submit an event to be included in Ventfull. These events are categorized into six groups (social, organization, performance, sports, academic, and free food), which are also then subcategorized. New users are asked about their interests when they sign in for the first time, and then an email is sent to them with only relevant information about what’s going on at Brown. Even more, Ventfull gives its users the freedom to choose how often this email is sent out, whether it’s every single day or maybe twice a week. Ventfull allows for a great deal of social engagement, as events can be exported to both Facebook and Google Calendar. There is also a voting system like on Reddit, where posts are ranked higher when they receive a greater number of approving votes.
Ventfull launched in late February, and is currently being used by 30% of undergraduates. Peter and Joe are more focused on the retention rate, however, which currently remains at 90% on email, and only 4% of users have stopped using the app. They also have not had to delete any events, although all posts are monitored to ensure proper content is listed on the site. Their web design is colorful and simple, and student groups are now using it regularly. “At first I was putting every event on there,” says Peter. “Now 60% of the events are being put up by others after only one month. All the trends are going up and to the right. Things are looking positive.”
Peter and Joe are currently focusing on Brown, but plans to expand to other colleges are in the works, with RISD as the next step. Peter, who is graduating in May, is going to work on Ventfull full time this coming summer. The two are very excited for the future, and hope Ventfull continues to help students stay informed about what’s going on around campus every day.