January typically marks the time of year when people leave their house bundled up from head to toe and scurry indoors as quickly as possible, but not for a significant portion of Duke students known as tenters. After gathering a group of friends and pitching a tent upon their arrival from winter break in Krzyzewskiville, tenters must follow rigid guidelines in order to secure one of the sought-after spots in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Duke-North Carolina men’s basketball game.
For years, there have been numerous ways to organize all tent members’ schedules, each one designed to save groups from the devastation of failing a tent check from Krzyzewskiville’s governing body, the line monitors. From pen and paper to Google Sheets, innovation has been prevalent in Krzyzewskiville since its beginnings. Enter Game Tenting Help Center, a new app that automates tenters’ schedules, sends notifications for line monitor announcements and more, originating a year ago from the brains of co-founders and Duke seniors Aman Ibrahim, Rikki Kendall, Anesu Mafuvadze and Vinit Parekh.
Ibrahim knows what it feels like to lose his spot in Krzyzewskiville, and he felt that no other Duke students should have to feel his pain.
“The issue came when we had to figure out how to schedule people into tents…. It eventually led to us getting two tent strikes and getting kicked out. I was like, ‘How is there not a solution for this?,’ and I looked around and there was not one, so I decided to build one myself.”
The main purpose of GTHC is to take the burden of constructing schedules off of the tenters and let the app do the dirty work. Each tenter can log in via their student ID and upload their own availability to the app, selecting shifts that fit into their daily routine. GTHC is supposed to ensure all shifts are covered and equally divided to rid of the scheduling-related headaches many Duke students are privy to.
Ibrahim stated that through a survey his team conducted, they found out that the average tenter spends 30 minutes to an hour on scheduling per week.
“[The app] basically goes back and makes sure that every single person’s availability is accounted for and it generates the shifts. This is not taking half an hour to an hour.”
Another advocate for GTHC are the line monitors, who have previously had problems ensuring that all tenters received notifications for tent checks. GTHC’s built-in announcement feature allows line monitors to send announcements directly through the app.
“The fact that you can have an automatic shift scheduler that takes into account everyone’s class times and availability is absolutely amazing. The fact that is has all the announcements...is tremendously helpful and organized,” head line monitor Ben Succop said. “I would hope that most of Krzyzewskiville, or all of Krzyzewskiville, who was somewhat tech- savvy in that regard would adopt it.”
GTHC had approximately 200 student users in its first year and projects to exceed those numbers this season.
The app is not monetized as of now, but it has received several grants from the Duke Innovation Co-Lab for expenses, such as software costs, as well as financial support from the men’s basketball program.
“The people we have backing this are both Duke basketball and the line monitors,” head of marketing Shyam Pradheep said. “Every tent where every single member signs up, every single one of them gets a free Duke basketball shirt. We have their full backing.”
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Despite the prominent backing, there have been a fair share of obstacles that have prevented the app from reaching the heights that Ibrahim and Pradheep strive for, the biggest one being some students simply prefer to use the tried and true method of spreadsheets instead of switching to a new method.
Among those sticking to the spreadsheet method is Connor Passe. The three-year tent captain wrote to The Chronicle that his group prefers spreadsheets due to some “glitches” in the app, which prompted them to go back to the spreadsheets they had used in previous seasons.
Although right now the only plans for GTHC are for Duke, there are visions of expansion in the future. Ibrahim mentioned the possibility of scaling it to be an app used for wage-based workers to pick up shifts as well as the plausibility of the app being used at other schools where line-up systems similar to tenting are gaining popularity.
As for what would happen if GTHC—which has a less-than-friendly meaning over in Chapel Hill—made it to North Carolina’s campus?
“We probably would have to reconsider [the apps’ name],” Ibrahim said with a chuckle.
Derek Saul contributed reporting.