CINCINNATI -- Peep: The Study App is intended to protect college students from what its creators call the four "Weapons of Mass Distraction:" Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
"The idea is to enhance productivity," said Luke Klepec, 22.
Like his co-founder, Spencer Pupp, 21, Klepec is a newly minted Xavier University graduate.
They want to help students achieve "the perfect balance between independence and collaboration," Klepec said.
How does it work?
Users will set aside a time for studying, and Peep will keep track of how many times they open any other app on their mobile device during that time. When they complete their study time, Peep will give them a productivity score based on the results.
They'll also be able to let Peep know what course they're studying for, so that it can pair them with others studying for the same course and they can collaborate. The creators hope this feature will distinguish their app from similar study apps, such as Pocket Points.
Peep: The Study App is still in development. The creators hope to have it complete in time for fall semester.
Whose idea was it?
About a year ago, at 2 a.m., Klepec was working on a 10-page paper due later that day when he received a Facebook notification on his phone. He immediately stopped his work to check Facebook, and then wasted more time checking his other social-media sites.
That's when he conceived of Peep. He immediately told Pupp, his roommate, and they came up with the name and a logo that looks like a turtle.
When students are in study mode, it's as if they go into their turtle shell, Klepec said. When they complete their studying, they "peep" out of the shell.
How will it make money?
The creators had originally planned to run ads on the app, until feedback from advisors and potential investors convinced them that wasn't appropriate in an app designed to minimize distractions.
Now, they hope to sell it to universities and colleges by convincing them of the value it would bring to students. They plan to have a free app for students to generate interest, then sell a more advanced version to the schools, with features like links to Blackboard and other online student services.
There's a large potential market that's only growing larger with coming generations.
"It's not something that's slowing down," Pupp said. "We now have 6-year-olds with smart phones."
Educators know that social media affects student performance, said Scott Beck, a professor of marketing at Xavier, who has been advising Pupp and Klepec. He sees it just walking across campus.
"I can't tell you the number of times a student almost runs into me because they can't get their nose out of their phone," he said. "Students, frankly, are exhausted. They spend so much time on social media they can't disconnect and focus on work."
"(Peep) is an opportunity to say, 'I'm not going to totally abstain (from social media), but I'm going to manage my time better.'"
The creators are trying to raise $20,000 in a Kickstarter campaign that ends June 1. Until now, they've mostly bootstrapped the company with about $7,000 of their own money.
This summer and fall, they'll follow their marketing plan of letting the world know about Peep via email; via their newsletter, which has 1,100 subscribers; via Facebook ads; via Xavier's alumni network, and via their Instagram account, their primary engagement platform, which has 2,200 followers.
They've also applied to be part of the upcoming class of startups at UpTech, a business accelerator in Covington.
What have they learned?
Initially, Klepec, a criminal justice major, wanted Peep to be a part-time venture from which he could collect cash while he pursued a law enforcement career. Last summer, he tried to learn how to code, so he could develop the app himself, but found it too time-consuming.
Pupp also found that being an entrepreneur took a lot more time than he'd expected. While other students were drinking and partying the week before graduation, he and Klepec were working on the business.
"I never thought I would be in the tech industry," he said. "I never thought I would own a tech company. But it has been a lot of fun. I've learned so much."