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PodKeeper planning: UB alum creates online hub for management

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When Steven Sacks became a father, his life was in dire need of organization.

Sacks, a UB graduate, and his wife Nikki also noticed a gap in the market. That’s when they co-founded the PodKeeper app for busy parents and students. PodKeeper is an application to help parents manage family schedules and social groups for their kids but can also be used by students to manage their busy lives. It is not available in the app store, but can be accessed online from a computer, tablet, iPhone or Android and syncs with calendars and emails.

“More than just a family calendar, this is the ultimate tool for keeping up with everyone involved in every facet of your life,” Sacks said. “There’s a lot of nuance to group communication – much more than people think – and I’m driven to continue to make PodKeeper even better.”

Sacks’ experience as a student led him to create the app when he saw how difficult it is for some to manage their time.

“My core classes were in business and information technology and being able to have this dual concentration of majors provided me with an excellent foundation for my career in online product management and marketing,” Sacks said. “Once I identified the tremendous need for an organizational tool for parents and group leaders, I was able to rely on my dual competencies within business and technology to create PodKeeper.”

The application was founded in 2013 and is stationed out of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sacks’ education and membership in a fraternity gave him some experience and background with planning, which helped influence the app.

“On university campuses across the country, we have people using PodKeeper for student government, college clubs, fraternities and sororities,” Sacks said. “I was very active in my fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) and planned meetings and activities for the members of the group. It was through that experience that I recognized the importance of group communication.”

The interface of the application offers a dropdown menu to sectionalize the different groups or “Pods” a user is involved with, such as a sports team club or event. They can then compare these groups to time within their personal calendars.

Others can join a Pod through email. Pods are organized to have an administrator that controls the settings, or just members.

*Tomas Olivier, a graduate student studying English and member of Alpha Tau Omega, helps organize his events for his fraternity.

“Most of our organizing takes place at our weekly chapter meetings, but when we can’t get to certain topics due to time restraints we have been known to discuss business through email, phone calls, text messages, etc.,” Olivier said. “An app that offered list building and calendar sharing would definitely be a great tool to help us stay more organized and figure out what needs to be done and what has already been done.”

PodKeeper allows users to create events and keep track of information across multiple platforms. While it may work well for parents, convenience remains a setback for using applications like this among students.

Lisa Cannavale, a junior communication major and member of a sorority on campus, is also involved with the planning among the members of the sorority.

“The only way we would use something like what you're speaking of would be if it was incredibly easy to use and not time consuming to set up or sign in to,” Cannavale said. “We have a large group of girls so we would need something that functions quickly and effectively.”

The interface also has six icons at the top of the page to organize different tabs. These tabs include events, discussions, lists, files, members and an option to invite others, along with a dropdown menu labeled “more.”

Evan Grisley is the features editor and can be reached at evan.grisley@ubspectrum.com


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