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.