How did SMUMods come about? Did you take down ReviewMyProf? Why are you doing this? It’s time for a little history lesson from our founders and SMU alumni, Gabriel and Zachery.
In the summer of 2018, we were doing our own work in the SMU SIS Ace Room. We started talking about ideas and we came to the topic of how hard it was to find reviews of courses and professors.
For many students in SMU, and possibly other colleges, picking the right courses and professors to study impacts 2 major things in our student life:
Our future career paths – through the courses that prepare us for it.
Our destinies – meeting the right professors who could change how we think about life and what we’re studying.
Back then, finding reviews of these courses and professors meant we had to scroll through dozens of Google Sheets and Docs. Reviews that were left there were unverified and undated. There was simply no way to know for sure if it was trustworthy or up to date. As students, we could be bidding for courses and professors with the wrong information.
Initially, it was just Gabriel and Sherman. Our prototype looked something like this:
Later on, Zachery helped to revamp the UI and did some magic wand waving. Around the same time, we (Zachery and Gabriel) needed to complete our mandatory SIS internships. But there was only 1 summer left and we really wanted to build this. Luckily, we came across the IIE Student Entrepreneurship Initiative. We quickly inquired about the programme and applied for it after registering a company with ACRA. We got accepted and didn’t have to worry about completing our mandatory internship.
So we started building the new designs Zachery had in mind. This was while he was still in Switzerland. Bit by bit, we slowly pieced together new technologies we barely started learning. In the course of a month, we finally got the site up and running and launched it.
SMUMods was launched on 1 July 2019. It started with the Reviews feature. As there were no reviews, we had to manually copy them from various Google Sheets and Docs and added anonymous reviews manually. It took 3 full, painful days. At this time, the Starbucks Card campaign was used to bring in our very first group of users and we achieved close to 500 reviews. It took a lot of effort to get there – we even had to constantly remind our friends to help us write reviews.
Worrying about continuity as we were graduating a year later, we started looking for juniors to help take over the project. So we reached out to friends and student clubs and did pitches to see if any students would be interested. Thankfully, Yash and other juniors caught on.
Over the 2nd summer, we worked on Books and used that as a way to introduce juniors to our code base and give them their first taste of building an actual product. Fast forward to today, we now have over 4K reviews and 300+ listed books.
And we are only just beginning...
(P.S. - If you like what we’re doing here, and want to support us - do donate the price of a cup of coffee so we can keep doing what we’re doing (and more). We pay for our servers out of our pockets at the moment. Every dollar counts! https://ko-fi.com/smumods. Thank you!)