Student-made ‘Sketch-a-Song’ app finds younger market

| Contributing Reporter

While many students seek to make connections at career fairs and ace interviews, Washington University alumnus Jacob Zax rejected multiple job offers in order to work full-time on the application he developed while at the University.

Zax’s application, Sketch-a-Song, is free to download for iPhones in the Apple App Store as well as for Android phones in the Google Play store. He began working on the application during his senior year at Washington University with a friend from high school, Zack Sulsky, a Wesleyan University graduate.

“It would be impossible to run [Sketch-a-Song] full time while being at school. But to release it at school and talk about it with friends and to promote it at Wash. U. was definitely a good experience,” Zax said.

Sketch-a-Song is a visual way to create music that targets musically inexperienced people. Users place notes on a “sketchpad” that can be played aloud and shared with other users.

Zax learned from a few surprises that have now shaped the future of his application. The initial vision was to target college-aged people, but the stronger response was with kids, Zax said.

He expects to have an additional Sketch-a-Song release available for free in about three weeks, with additional functions and an interface designed to be more child-friendly. His long-term goal is to build a similar app with features that will teach kids about music and musical notation.

Zax did not let his lack of musical or programming experience prevent him from executing his idea. Neither he nor any of the app’s other creators had ever coded before releasing the original app, but they have since reached out to skilled coders to refine the product.

Blake Marggraff, junior and president of the Washington University Technology Entrepreneurs, said that a lack of coding experience might not hinder a student’s interest in creating an app, especially if he is willing to learn online.

Marggraff said the Washington University entrepreneurial community is growing because more people are seeing the real-world value of starting a business.

“I think the reason we have such a strong and growing community is because we have an academically oriented student base,” Marggraff said. “Entrepreneurial experience is the best way to get hands-on experience, to get the skills [students] need in the real world.”

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