Courtesy of Kent Sutherland

Since his time as an engineering student at Cornell, Sutherland has entered the world of software development and created the calendar app Fantastical.

November 11, 2021

Alumni Software Engineer Earns Acclaim for Adaptive Calendar App Fantastical

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On Oct. 11, Fantastical, a calendar app developed by Kent Sutherland MEng ’10, scored a feature on the App Store’s ‘Today’ page as Apple Inc.’s App of the Day.

The app, which Sutherland began developing during his time at Cornell, aims to make online calendars more accessible and easier to use. Its features include quick access to more than 30 different conference call services, unique mobile widgets and weather integration service.

“While I was at Cornell, my friend and I had a project in a machine learning class that involved trying to identify the different parts of an event from a sentence,” Sutherland wrote to The Sun. “Over the course of a semester we had it working well enough that I thought it could be useful in a real-world app.”

A few months after graduating, Sutherland founded his own software development company — Flexibits Inc. After refining the technology he had developed during his time at Cornell, Sutherland launched Fantastical on May 17, 2011.

Through Fantastical, Sutherland hoped to make calendar usage more approachable and less daunting through its easy-to-read interface and adaptive algorithm. 

“One of the hardest things about productivity is actually using a tool or sticking with a system for long enough to get and stay organized,” Sutherland wrote. “If we could make using your calendar just a little bit faster and a little bit more fun, then the chances of you actually using it would go up.” 

To achieve this goal, Sutherland’s team placed emphasis on creating and fine-tuning a software that allows people to input their schedules with everyday language, as opposed to interacting with a complicated interface.

In addition to winning the App of the Day recognition, Fantastical was also awarded the 2020 App Store Mac App of the Year and the 2016 Apple Design Award.

“For nearly 10 years, Fantastical has been a reliably great productivity app for a simple reason: It helps you get more done in less time with less effort,” Apple Inc. states on their official website. “Efficiency is baked into even the most basic features.”

Fantastical has made its way onto Cornell’s campus as students attempt to organize their workload. Cameron Goddard ’25 said he found the app quite useful and refined as compared to other, similar apps on the market. He found the app’s simple integration between devices particularly helpful.

“Fantastical unifies a lot of different things and brings them all into one easy and elegant app,” Goddard said.

Moving forward, Sutherland said that he plans to continually make marginal improvements to the app to satisfy the hundreds of thousands of active Fantastical users.

“We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we started Fantastical as a simple yet powerful app that makes it easy for people to get into using a calendar,” Sutherland said. “We put a lot of thought into how we keep making things better for people who are really into their calendars.”

Sutherland also said aspiring app developers at Cornell should think big in their projects and seek feedback from the real world users.

“Start creating things and making them available for the world to see,” said Sutherland. “Even if at first nobody is looking, sharing what you make with the world is amazing practice and you’ll improve much faster than if your ideas never leave your computer or sketchpad.”