The phrase “Did you wave today?” has become one Hill students and employees now hear on a regular basis. No, it does not mean did you wave your hand as a friendly greeting to the person walking past you on the Quad. Rather, it is a reminder to complete your daily wellness check using the Wave app that all students, faculty, and staff now have installed on their mobile devices.
Wave is a location management and student tracking app developed by Max Tsiang ’19 and Jingyu Cai ’19 while they were Hill students. When there was a need to add a health-tracking component to the app this spring, Dean of Students Ari Baumcontacted the young alumni entrepreneurs to see if a modification could be made. Tsiang and Cai got right to work and delivered a system that is now used by all students, faculty, and staff as we continue to maintain the safest and healthiest community possible.
Below is an interview with Tsiang and Cai about how and why they created Wave.
Going back to when you were students, why did you want to create a new app to replace Reach?
It actually started as a project in the afternoon activity Tech Time during our sophomore year. We were brainstorming project ideas when our teacher told us jokingly that if someone made a better Reach, Hill will probably build them a statue. All jokes aside, we actually started this project just as an experiment. We didn’t have any goals or plans to form a company, we just wanted to code an app and experiment with technologies that can hopefully create a better experience for students and faculty at Hill. User experience was our founding goal and we never deviated from it. We formed company cultures around this principle, and we really believe a better product does not come from simply coding but exploring the human side of the problem.
When did you officially create inWave, Corp?
We created inWave Corp in our sophomore year summer.
What does Wave do that Reach did not do?
Wave took what Reach did well functionally, such as “SISO” (sign in /sign out), leave requests, and admin views. But we redesigned the entire interfaces to make them more user-friendly. We also interviewed many students and faculty, namely Mr. Baum, to include features that Hill wanted but Reach did not provide, such as prefect privileges, posting announcements, shared check-ins, and the list goes on. We worked closely with the school, and Mr. Baum kept us in the loop about school events so we would better understand how to update our system to changes. Again, perhaps Reach also did things that we did not do, but we focused more on the user experience than what functions we have different from Reach by understanding the problems from Hill and adapting to it.
How did you come up with the name inWave?
Wave was taken. We wanted to create a centralized digital platform for schools, keeping everything related to a school in Wave (the app name). So we called it inWave.
We understand Mr. Baum came to you this past spring about modifying Wave to meet the needs of the School, particularly with the health form part. How long did it take you to create that part of the app?
The actual coding for health forms took only a day, but the designing process took about a week. We wanted to create the best experience for Hill and the least training to use health form from the students and faculty sides, so we integrated a lot of what was already on Wave to create a more familiar interface. We also redid a lot of the code during the process to speed up the system due to the amount of data that will be created on a daily basis.
Are you satisfied with how the app is functioning and there any improvements/additions in the works?
We are both pretty satisfied with how the app is functioning at Hill. We realized during our entrepreneurial journey that as designers, we cannot design a good product unless we communicate with the customer. No matter how good of a design we make and how much time and energy we put into it, if it doesn’t appeal to the school, then it is useless. We like to listen to feedback from the school before we make any adjustments. At the moment, there are no major additions that are required.
Now that you’re both in college are you currently seeking other clients?
We have been contacting a few schools over the years and have over 15 or so schools lined up that are interested for a new beta trial, we will hopefully make more expansion plans next summer.
Is there anything else you’d like for us to know about your work with the School and creating WAVE?
We would like to thank all the people that helped us along the way, including our families, friends, and teachers. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support.