Students Want to Solve Everyday Problem
Carleton University students Nishant Bhasin, BEng/14, and Boris Misljencevic, BEng/14, were attracted to engineering for the same reason: they wanted to help people. That’s why the pair—along with two other students—decided to develop an app that could help their peers with an everyday frustration.
“Our idea was to eliminate the need for a wire when transferring files, folders and your personal data between your computer and your phone, or other devices,” explained Misljencevic. “We wanted to simplify it and keep everything in sync, while keeping it secure so you don’t have to go through the Internet and third party providers who could look at your data.”
Another goal for the team was to limit the amount of Internet bandwidth these applications consume.
“With applications like OverDrive and Dropbox you have to use your data,” said Bhasin. “So, if you don’t have access to WiFi, you have to make uploads and that will cost you more money.”
Currently available to be downloaded for free, Bhasin and Misljencevic’s app—Episync—has features like syncing your music or image directory with your computer. So, for example, when you download a song or take a photo on your mobile device, the file would appear automatically on your computer.
The application transfers data quickly—one gigabyte in about 10 seconds.
Episync began as Bhasin and Misljencevic’s fourth-year capstone project—all Carleton engineering students are required to produce an original design innovation in their final year of study. The pair decided to continue pursuing Episync and applied for the Faculty of Engineering and Design’s summer fellowship program. Entrepreneur Tom Skinner, MEng/72, has donated funds to support engineering students who wish to pursue the commercial potential of their fourth-year projects.
“I hope the summer fellowship helps develop the mindset that you’re not finished when you’ve solved the technical problems,” said Skinner. “Solving problems is only a third of the way—it’s the start of a process to develop and bring a product to market.”
Skinner co-founded JSI Telecom, which manufactures equipment to intercept and analyze electronic transmissions.
Because of how closely related Bhasin and Misljencevic’s project was to his own company’s work, Skinner took a personal interest in Episync, allowing the pair to meet some of the senior managers at JSI Telecom and receive business advice and suggestions for technical improvements.
“We know Mr. Skinner is a busy man, so he went above and beyond just to help us out,” said Misljencevic.
The fellowship allowed Misljencevic and Bhasin to begin work on developing Episync for iPhone, as it is currently only offered to Android users.
The application differs from Apple’s iCloud technology in that it is not stored on the Apple server, so there is no way for a hacker to guess your password and have access to your personal data, explained Misljencevic.
Throughout the course of the fellowship, the pair has begun to make improvements to their product, including phone-to-phone transfers between different devices.
Misljencevic and Bhasin have also installed an option to link your Dropbox account to Episync, begun talks with Google about a potential partnership, and are exploring additional funding options with Kickstarter, Ottawa Investors and Carleton Entrepreneurs.
“The fellowship helped us think in a more business way,” explained Misljencevic. “When we graduated, we had some of the technical knowledge, but I think an even bigger part of the fellowship was learning to work together and tackle business problems. Also, to focus on what people want. That’s the only way to be successful. Those are things you don’t necessarily learn from an engineering degree.”
Bhasin, who moved to Ottawa from New Delhi, India, four years ago, to pursue his studies at Carleton, said the guidance Mr. Skinner provided has been invaluable.
“Students struggle a lot to find funding for their projects, but this way students can make their idea into a real product,” said Bhasin. “That’s the kind of thing that changes your life.”