Getting Connected

    The typical college student can log on to Facebook to receive notice of a friend’s forgotten birthday, nominate Stephen Colbert for president and exchange electronic bumper stickers to display on a profile page. Now, using the Veechi application on Facebook, students from UCSD, UC Berkeley and UC Davis can also search for instructor ratings, reviews and grade distributions at their colleges.

    Veechi Corporation launched its beta Facebook application on Oct. 26 to gain recognition and get feedback. Less than a week later, Veechi had amassed over 1,000 users and has continued to grow steadily. Additionally, the corporation has been in talks with with the UCSD Career Services Center for its first partnership.

    Joining the many college success tools available to provide students with access to academic resources online, Veechi compiles supplements provided by programs such as RateMyProfessors.com, PostYourTest.com and UCSD’s Course and Professor Evaluations, which can all be obtained instantaneously with a few clicks of the mouse.

    “We are leveraging the power of Facebook and [harnessing] that power of the social network to the advantage of the students,” Veechi founder Abraham Shafi said.

    With the anticipation of launching Veechi.com — a Web site independent from the Facebook application — by Spring Quarter, the site’s UCSD campus representative Travis Lowe began searching for a partner to assist the site in facilitating career and internship information into their available services.

    “When I walked into [the Career Services Center], the response was warm and interested, so we decided to move forward with UCSD first,” Lowe said. “The reason we decided to start the discussion here was that it would give us a background in how we would work with other campuses in the future.”

    Located in Silicon Valley, the company is the brainchild of Shafi, who met Lowe at Diablo Community College before they transferred to separate universities. As the chief persuasion officer, Shafi gears Veechi to adapt to its target users; he promotes and recruits for the company.

    Veechi’s goal is to help students conquer college. The name itself originated from a Greek advertisement that caught Shafi’s eye when he visited New York City. The slogan of the advertisement was “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” the illustrious Latin phrase uttered by Julius Caesar that translates to “I came, I saw, I conquered.” The Veechi team plays on that phrase by embellishing the Facebook application with a Roman theme. At the top of the Web page, a small piece of Roman trivia is highlighted and changes every time the user refreshes the page. To draw people in, the team has developed a ranking system for each time a user writes a review or invites friends to join the application. The user will then be given electronic Denarii, or Roman currency, which will eventually accumulate. The amount of Denarii a user has will determine status in the Veechi community, which ranks from citizen to emperor. Surprises are promised for those at the top ranks.

    However, students are less preoccupied with their Veechi status and more concerned with retrieving reviews about courses and instructors.

    “I don’t like the [ranking] system but I guess it helps that it has both reviews and grade distributions,” Revelle College freshman Kailin Duan said. “[Veechi] is pretty much the same as PickAProf.com. I don’t think it’s completely necessary to use, since it gets its information from other sources.”

    Veechi provides the names of the toughest and easiest instructors on campus, including the grade ranges given by each instructor. Moreover, students can add reviews and ratings of courses that they have taken in the past and view other students’ opinions on courses they are interested in taking in the future. The application also helps students find and get to know their classmates.

    Currently, the beta application is performing its most basic functions: it is providing students with an aid to plot their academic courses. The Veechi team is focusing primarily on marketing strategies to spread the word across campuses. Veechi uses information already made public by UCSD and relies on its users to keep it updated. The existing information is sparse, because the corporation is relying on resources already available for its users, something it hopes to change with prospective partnerships.

    “I think this could be a potentially unique social platform that will be very positive for students,” Associate Director of the UCSD Career Services Center Craig Schmidt said after an initial meeting with Shafi. “There’s a lot of potential there to assist students in providing key resources.”

    Veechi plans to launch its program at every UC and California State University campus this winter.

    “By the end of the year, we hope to reach the entirety of college systems in California, barring private schools,” Lowe said. Shafi expects that Veechi will continue to expand nationally and then internationally as long as the application remains relevant among college students.

    At the moment, Lowe said Veechi is biding its time and waiting to receive results from the three schools. He has been the driving force behind the negotiations between Veechi and the Career Services Center.

    Veechi’s reputation currently relies mostly on word of mouth and Facebook invitations, but the team is working on buzz advertisements as well.

    Lowe and Shafi met with the UCSD Career Advisor Directors on Nov. 5 to discuss how they could utilize the Career Services Center’s resources.

    Once Lowe and Shafi have generated enough users and information, they will begin implementing the next step in their plan: providing employment opportunities for college students. They plan to use Veechi to help students make career decisions by choosing classes that could best prepare students for their desired career and then help them find appropriate employers. Veechi will help place students in internships or extracurricular activities that will assist them in making the most of their college years. Students would be able to contact employers through their Facebook application, while employers could seek students from a separate account on the Veechi homepage; currently, this page only operates as a front that directs traffic to the Facebook application.

    This is where their partnership with Career Services Centers on various college campuses will play a key role. However, at this point the UCSD Career Services directors say that it is premature to determine whether the center will partner with Veechi.

    “At this point it’s too early to have any other kind of proclamation, but we certainly want to encourage them,” Schmidt said. “They have struck us as very creative and have definite possibilities.”

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