KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 6, 2023
Juggling school, extracurricular activities and earning spending money will be easier for students as a new phone application developed by a Kennesaw State University alumnus allows them to focus on learning while earning gift cards for good grades.
The app, Schoolconomy, was inspired by the personal experiences of KSU alumnus Regnault Drake Sanders, who didn’t have a job while attending Luella High School in Locust Grove, Ga. and saw during college how working negatively affected his classroom performance.
“When I was in high school, I had friends who held part-time jobs so that meant they always had a little bit of extra money,” Sanders recalled. “My parents would tell me, ‘You already have a job. It's called school.’ So, I always viewed school as work because it was intensive, but I never got paid for it.”
From not having a job in high school to picking up three in college, he soon realized his schoolwork suffered because of the time he devoted to work outside the classroom.
“It was actually taking away from the amount of focus I can put into my coursework,” said Sanders, who graduated from KSU with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 2018. “I could see how having to set aside 20 to 30 hours a week for a part-time job can potentially really hurt somebody in the long run with their education.”
To address this challenge, Sanders sought a solution that would allow students to earn money while staying focused on their schoolwork. He began developing Schoolconomy in October 2022, with the app officially launching in January.
To use the app, students upload their grades to Schoolconomy to receive points towards rewards. Those points can be turned into gift cards for major retailers and brands. The app currently targets all students.
To help his fledgling business succeed, Sanders enlisted the help of the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at Kennesaw State. The center provides valuable support and resources to many entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses. He was later connected with KSU’s HatchBridge Incubator, a collaboration studio based in the Coles College of Business, as well as the Mookerji Innovation Fund, which provides financing for promising ventures created by students.
“These three resources have been vital to the success of Schoolconomy,” Sanders said. “The Mookerji Innovation Fund was particularly helpful because it gave me an opportunity to pitch my idea in front of a panel of investors, and I was able to really get my pitch clear and concise. It forced me to practice and gave me some game-time experience.”
With the help of the Mookerji Innovation Fund and the HatchBridge Incubator, Sanders raised $22,500 for his company. The funds allowed him to release a second version of the app as well as grow the user base 735%.
“It has been rewarding to apply what I’ve learned at KSU and to connect with my peers in the entrepreneurial community while I grow as a new business owner and professional,” Sanders said. “It’s empowering to see Schoolconomy come into fruition knowing I have a community of support behind me.”
– Darius Goodman
Photo by Judith Pishnery
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.