3Qs: Wake-up artist

Computer science student Marc Held helped create Zazu, a mobile phone personal assistant that will wake you up and feed you news at the same time. Held is also a cyberdefense champ and teaches a class at Northeastern on Android development.
We caught up with the undergraduate inventor and asked him more about his digital pursuits.

How has the University fostered Zazu’s success?
One of the things I love about Northeastern is the complete openness among the colleges. Most 
of us are in the College of Computer and Information Science, but we’ve had College of Business Administration faculty help us with pitches and presentations, and marketing and graphic design students contributed to developing our brand. Even if we’re working on separate things, we all help each other out.

What is the climate like on campus for entrepreneurship?
There are so many opportunities, from clubs to classes to events. And Northeastern entrepreneurs truly stand out. Zazu recently interviewed hundreds of students from surrounding universities, as well as more experienced professionals. We ended up hiring a Northeastern freshman, who trounced people who had been in the field for 20 years. The quality of talent here is astounding — it’s really the place to be.

What’s next for you and Zazu?
We’ve already gotten a lot of media coverage, and amassed 6,000 downloads. It’s currently only for Androids, but next it’s headed to the iPhone. And we’re teaming up with Quaker Oatmeal to tackle the “morning market.” Zazu is going to keep changing and growing. My ultimate dream is that every mobile phone has my software running on it.