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UM Students’ Fetchnotes Startup Launches Note-Taking System

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mattroush Matt Roush
Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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ANN ARBOR — Fetchnotes, a University of Michigan student-founded startup,  will launch on Friday a public version of its cloud-based system for jotting and organizing quick notes to yourself.

The company will release a new Android, iPhone and desktop app for its system that attracted more than 3,300 users in invitation-only beta since October. A new web app is also forthcoming, the company founders say.

The Fetchnotes system lets users call, text, email, or type notes directly into their account through a phone, smartphone app, desktop widget or Web browser. You categorize notes with hashtags for easy retrieval. Users can view a category directly in the app or in their web account, or they can text the category’s hashtag to a special Fetchnotes number.

“When we went out and talked with people about how they keep track of all the stuff in their lives, all the information we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, we found that most of what they needed to keep track of were short little blips, not bigger items such as meeting minutes,” said co-founder Chase Lee, a junior in the Ross School of Business. “Unfortunately, no one had found a really good way to handle these little bits of info. This is the problem that Fetchnotes solves,”

Lee and cofounder Alex Schiff, also a junior in Ross, think they’ve hit on a real need. Schiff said he used to use his Blackberry’s memo pad for this purpose, until “one day all of my notes were randomly deleted by Blackberry demons. I lost hundreds of them. I’m a writer, so I had jotted down ideas for columns and blog posts. I was very unhappy.”

He moved to a clunky new system of self-texts and Word documents while searched for a long-term solution. He couldn’t find one.

“I found a crazy patchwork of how people do this,” Schiff said. “A lot of people send texts or emails to themselves. I looked at different apps like Evernote, but everything seemed geared toward long-form notes. Nothing was streamlined for the kinds of notes I took most often — not a page, but three or four sentences.”

The team, which includes 14 UM students from computer science and informatics, has had space in UM’s TechArb student business incubator for the past year. TechArb is sponsored by the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“Fetchnotes shows the business potential when an innovative product is targeted at a clearly identified emerging market,” said Tom Kinnear, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute at the Ross School of Business.

One of its early customers is Thomas Zurbuchen, associated dean of entrepreneurial programs at the College of Engineering.

“I use Fetchnotes every day,” Zurbuchen said. “I love when our student companies help me be more effective. It’s the most direct payback of an entrepreneurship program.”

More at http://cfe.umich.edu/techarb or www.fetchnotes.com.

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