Bryce Aebi

Peernote

Peernote is an educational platform that connects writers and instructors, providing tools to create and collaboratively review papers. Our team is currently working full time to develop and release our student beta by the end of March. At the same time, we will be applying to a series of incubators and startup accelerators. The funds from the Explorer Grant will be put towards these goals.

We plan to release a featured word processor and a document markup editor with auto-saving capabilities. Beta testers will be able to create, upload, save, and print documents from the browser. They will also be able to save drafts of documents, use a markup editor to review documents, and request document reviews via email. We intend to fine-tune our editing features and build up our infrastructure before moving on to instructor and classroom features.

We will evaluate our progress through user testing. We have contacts at Brown and Wheeler School who will be able to help us gather test subjects. Testing will involve having subjects write and/or edit short papers. Our developers will sit with test subjects and document their thoughts and reactions. As we receive feedback, we will iterate on our product. 

The funds from the grant will be put towards a variety of necessities. On the tech side of our venture, we will need to pay for web servers, APIs, a domain name, and workflow tools.  On the business side, we will use funds for travel costs to meet with educators, students, entrepreneurs, and investors. It may also be necessary to spend funds to compensate beta testers. 

When we conclude our student beta, we will apply for the Expand Grant and redirect our efforts towards building our core services for classroom use.  

Explore Grant Report:

The Peernote team has been hard at work this semester developing our beta product. Though two weeks behind schedule, we plan to launch our beta this month. 

We’ve initially focused our efforts on building the infrastructure of our application. Towards this end, we have set up user accounts, sessions, email capabilities, database backups, user settings, splash and info pages, uploads, and document creation. Additionally, we have spent a lot of time putting together our editor, which is one of the core features of our product. We have implemented printing, autosaving, text decoration, drafts, and a UI that allows one to switch between review, edit, and readonly modes. 

We have spent a large portion of our time this semester networking with educators and advisors. We have met with teachers from Wheeler School and Moses Brown School as well as the director of Brown Writing Center and professors in the Brown Education Department. We have developed our feature set largely based on the feedback we receive from talks with actual teachers.

In the near future, we plan to launch our beta product, which will consist primarily of our text editor and reviewer. Users will be able to request reviews via email and reviewers will be able to markup essays.

We want to debug our basic functionality before moving on to our more valuable and unique features. Beta testing will be held at Wheeler School and Brown. At Wheeler, we have a contact who is willing to pilot our product in his classes. During several class periods, we will attend class and monitor and interact with students as they write short response papers. We plan to apply for the BVLF Expand Grant, which we will use to compensate beta testers at Brown for their time. We plan to offer a fixed payment for pages written. We will frame our beta testing as “getting paid to do homework.”