Vibhu Norby 06S wants to make your life easier. At least, when it comes to your inbox.
The idea first hit him last August, when he was trying to design a program that would notify him whenever he received a Facebook email, and also would allow him to view messages in those emails without opening them individually. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that this web application could be applied generally to all email, a way to organize and filter messages and streamline viewing.
The solution was Inboxmgr. For his Division III project, Norby spent the past year writing the program and designing a business plan for the product, which he thinks could revolutionize the way people check their emails.
"From the very beginning, I knew that it was possible to transform email from what it is today when I realized that email can be broken down into different classes of data, " says Norby. "It's all based on analyzing the content of emails. Inboxmgr takes control of your inbox by automatically categorizing and organizing your emails, and in the process, it recognizes the important information and context from each one, and then helps the user visualize all of that data in useful ways."
Meetings with Assistant Professor of Economics Omar Dahi and Professor of Computer Science Lee Spector, co-chairs of his Div III committee, helped him focus his plan. Norby, however, says he didn't choose Hampshire because of its computer or business curriculum. In fact, much of his work at Hampshire concentrated on Indian philosophy, seemingly unrelated but nonetheless inspiring.
"I came to Hampshire because I wanted to study something that gave me ideas," says Norby. "I thought about going to MIT, or Wharton for business, but it occurred to me that, when you study business, it's preparing you to be a manager in a big corporation. That's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to get ideas and make them into something real, and that's what Hampshire is best at teaching."
Norby was raised in Philadelphia, but his Indian heritage is shaping part of his business plan. Last year he visited India, learning the Hindi language and more about the culture firsthand. He intends to outsource some of inboxmgr's future business processes and engineering work there, and by connecting with numerous people already utilizing the technological infrastructure in the country, he hopes to build a solid foundation for his new company as well as bolster the economy with more high-tech jobs.
Inboxmgr.com, his website, is still in beta testing, but after graduation Norby plans to complete the application for wide-scale use, and then seek out funding to bring inboxmgr to market.