Headquarters: Minneapolis, USA
Vertical: K-12, Higher Education
Tech: Web App, Mobile App
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
InvolvEdu is a free app for High School and College students that allows them to get credit for what they do outside of class.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Founded by Joe Janiszewski. Joe has been able to expand the InvolvEdu team by networking and finding the right people who are not only talented, but also share the same passion for involvement.
How was the idea for your startup born?
InvolvEdu was born out of necessity. As a student at the University of Minnesota, Joe noticed the inefficiencies with getting involved on campus, and also wanted a way to track and validate his participation in activities outside of class.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
Gradual grade inflation is causing the GPA to become much less relevant. This is causing an uptick in extracurricular (student groups, study groups, volunteering) activities as students need to find other ways to set themselves apart on their resumes. The problem is that none of this involvement is regulated or tracked in any way. InvolvEdu solves this problem by offering the platform to validate participation, and export a student’s involvement into a fully-vetted transcript for use in college applications or job interviews.
Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?
Our biggest competitor is actually email. Email is the primary way that groups communicate with each other and with students about their events. There are also other companies that offer features similar to InvolvEdu, but none of them are completely free for students and groups. Every single one of them first requires a subscription from the school in order for students to use it. That is the biggest point of differentiation for InvolvEdu – we don’t rely on subscriptions from schools in order to make money.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
We are active in the Minneapolis area (which also happens to house some of the largest school districts and Universities in the United States). We are planning to expand this market to the surrounding schools and other states in the Midwest as well upon our initial roll out.
Who is your target audience.
Our target audience in High School and College students. We’ve also built in features for the officers of student groups/organizations, as well as school administrators.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
Our app is free for any student and student group to use at any school. Without having a large barrier such as cost, we’re able to acquire users of our product much easier than our other competitors. We engage with our users via direct, on-campus marketing efforts. By working with school’s student associations on school outreach efforts, we’re able to easily showcase the features of InvolvEdu. Once students are able to see how InvolvEdu works, conversion becomes much easier. There’s also a network effect that happens because it benefits both the students and the student groups when there are more of each on the platform.
How many users / downloads does your service have?
We initially launched a closed beta with a select group of students and organizations at the University of Minnesota. Since then we have been iterating on our product, and rolling out additional features based on feedback and market research. We’ve launched a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds that we need to accelerate the development of our v.1 product set to launch prior to the start of the Fall 2015 school year.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
InvolvEdu is completely free for all students and groups to use. There are some premium features that students and groups can opt for, but the free version still comes with all of the tracking and validating features of the core offering. We also have a component that’s strictly for school administrators to easily manage their extracurricular programs.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
Throughout our short start-up life, we’ve received numerous awards from business model and other start-up competitions. The most notable of which would be our semi-finalist finish in the 2014 Minnesota Cup competition (www.mncup.com) – the largest statewide new venture competition in the United States.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
Once we launch, it’ll be a boots-on-the-ground marketing effort in order to acquire the users that we need in order to show significant adoption, and growth that we can use to jump start additional fundraising.
How can people get in touch with you.
Room for anything else you would like to add.
We’re so honored to be featured on blogs such as EDUKWEST. We’re also excited for what the future may hold on our quest to make it as easy as possible for students to get involved on campus, while also giving them a way to document and showcase their involvement.