Late January, Larry Weru’s app for Cornell note-taking, “Columns,” was approved for the Mac App Store. It has since gone global, reaching users in the USA and Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, and India, Latin America, and the Carribbean.
At FSU, Weru graduated in 2014 with degrees in Studio Art and Biological Science. He then transferred the skills he learned at FSU into success. In 2015, he gave a TEDx talk to discuss how color theory can help us make better election maps. Just two years later, he was selected as a “7 Under 30” Alumnus of FSU by the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship. Then, in 2019, his “Muddy America” election map and color-balancing algorithm went viral, receiving over 250,000 visitors, and 12,000 upvotes on Reddit.
He first created Columns several years ago, when he was an undergraduate student at FSU. However, it remained a personal tool for Weru until this year. He received a recommendation to take notes using the Cornell note-taking format, which is a technique that had been the subject of several research studies. However, Weru became frustrated when he noticed that Cornell notes required a lot of upfront prep-work by splitting sheets into two columns by hand on every page before taking notes. Or, that he had to purchase specialty notebooks.
He felt that an app could help make it fast and straightforward to take notes in the format. However, there were no useful apps for two-column note-taking at the time. So, he built one for himself, designing the UI and coding it.
Six years after developing Columns for his own use, Weru decided to bring the app to market. Apple then approved the app for listing on their marketplace in January, just one month after Weru packaged the product. Shortly after its first month, it has been helping students and professionals worldwide take better notes, with users in the United States, UK, Spain, China, Russia, UAE, Brazil, France, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, India, and Australia.
When asked about what advice he would give to students, Weru recommends that students join a club or organization that they are interested in. “For me, that was SGA and Student United Way”, said Weru. “Seeking leadership roles in those organizations made a big difference in my college experience.” However, Weru advises that student involvement on campus doesn’t stop there. “It’s also important to do well in the classroom, but don’t discount networking. Seek internships and find ways to provide value to others while you’re still in college,” he explained. “On the note of networking, don’t limit your networking to just FSU. Conferences are amazing phenomena where all the leaders in your field decide to gather under the same roof.”
Weru’s last piece of advice? Get involved with undergraduate research! “If you’re thinking about Grad School, especially if you want to go for a PhD down the road, being published can set you apart from other applicants, and you don’t have to be the primary researcher. Find a professor who is already doing research in a field that you’re interested in, FSU has a fantastic Center for Undergraduate Research.”
Learn more about Columns at https://columnsapp.com