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Seize the Day gives 21-year-old OSU student first taste of business success

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Necessity may be the mother of invention, but too much free time doesn't hurt.

That's how Ben Gilbert, along with business partner Ian Kono, came to launch Functional Delights and their successful iPhone app, Seize the Day.

Gilbert is a 21-year-old computer science major who will graduate from Ohio State University in December. Kono is a UCLA grad working at Cisco Systems. The two met in 2009 while Cisco interns in San Jose, Calif.

"I moved to a new city and didn't know anyone," Gilbert explains. "So, I decided I was going to tackle learning iPhone development. And I did so with my roommate Ian, who would eventually become my co-founder. Once we figured our skills were sufficient, it was like what better way to put them to the test than make something that we need?"

What they needed was a decent mobile "to-do" management solution that didn't cost an arm and a leg.

"Both of us noticed that with the existing solutions in the App Store there was a big divide between really crummy free ones . . . and these enterprise solutions where you end up paying 100 bucks," Gilbert says. "We launched, and within a two-day span we were featured on the front page of the App Store and generating like 10,000 downloads a day."

Seize the Day differs from other to-do apps in its simplicity and ease of use, Gilbert says. Users can choose from a simple task menu marked "today," "upcoming," "at some point" or "view all." Tasks can be tagged for easy searches and marked complete when fulfilled. The app also has a daily reminder that alerts users each morning to the tasks of the day.

Since its launch last July, iPhone users have downloaded nearly 300,000 copies and give it a 4.5-star rating. Revenue from ads are "paying somewhere between beer money and the salary I want to make when I graduate," Gilbert says.

Next to be released is Zero, a paid revenue model that offers users the ability to sync up their iPhone calendar with their computer.

Source: Ben Gilbert, Functional Delights
Writer: Gene Monteith
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