Branda team works on fulfilling students’ needs

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December 6, 2019

The Branda app is being updated to meet the unique needs of the student body, including addressing accessibility concerns, according to the app’s development team, who gave a community update on Nov. 22. Sam Stern ’20, who co-founded the app in 2018 with Benjamin Segal ’20, said that Branda has many potential sources of revenue but that the app will never utilize any of them because the team wants to continue to act in the best interest of the community.

From last year, the number of users has doubled and has grown by 15 percent in the last month, according to Ariel Ohayon ’21, one of the business coordinators. The app, which currently has 1.1 thousand users, according to Ohayon, currently offers Brandeis news, a calendar, hours of operation for different dining halls and services on campus, a shuttle tracker, a laundry tracker and a map of Brandeis. Sarah Kosowsky ’22, an app developer, said that they are adding a function to the map so that students can find accessible directions to different spots on campus. The app currently covers 235 acres of Brandeis’ campus, according to the app’s website.

Ilan Hascal ’21, an app developer, has been working to install push notifications for Brandeis. He said that last month, after sending out a post notification for an event that had sold 130 tickets, an additional 30 tickets were bought. Hascal said that he has been working to shorten the length of the notifications and work through some glitches. 

Ian Smith ’22, an app developer, has been working to improve the app design. According to Smith, “new features deserve a better looking app.” He said that he is trying to make software look more “native” to whatever type of phone the user has. In addition, Smith intends to create a new login and onboarding experience to offer better ease of use for the user. Smith commented that he realized “how big of an effect that small changes can have” while working on the Branda app since the details he has worked on throughout his tenure have been small but made a large impact on the appearance and experience of the app. According to Smith, these changes include choosing one’s own notifications and “reorganizing the backend server… to make it more maintainable.”

Reese Farquhar ’22, webmaster and app developer, was the first to join the team as a first-year last year, and he took on the responsibility of recruiting his peers for the project to prevent a lack of manpower when seniors Segal and Stern graduate this spring. Farquhar also developed the Branda logo, implemented the advertising campaign and much more. 

Hannah Liu ’23, one of the business coordinators, has been working on marketing Branda and has been working to increase the app’s social media presence. In a week, Liu helped triple the number of social media followers, according to Segal.

Other team members include app developers Eli Miller ’22 and Sarah Baum ’22 and business coordinators Aseem Kumar ’20 and Brandon Musto ’20.

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