ClusterFlunk: The University of Iowa’s Own Social Media Studying Site
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ClusterFlunk: The University of Iowa’s Own Social Media Studying Site

You Facebook. You tweet. And if you’re an
Iowa student, you might also “flunk”, although, not in the traditional sense. It’s simply
a tool for students in lecture halls to talk to the other students in those classes. And
they can talk to those students via the class wall, via uploading a file…in its simplest
form it’s just a tool for other students to talk to other students. Located above Starbucks
in downtown Iowa City is ClusterFlunk, a startup initiated by two Iowa students who hope to
change the way you study. You’d go to your big lecture classes Freshman year; there’d
be 300 students, right? You’d go to those classes at the beginning of the year, you
know, by the end of the semester you meet maybe five, ten, more realistically two or
three of those kids if you were lucky, right? So that was kind of our first big pain point
that just baffled us, like, there’s 295 other students out there, why, you know, can’t we
meet them? Why can’t we talk to them? We’re just wasting all the social resources. We
have Facebook, we have Twitter, we have social networks for everything out there. Why wasn’t
there a tool that I could just jump on, you know, 2 a.m., and go talk to one of the kids
that are in my class. You know, cause realistically, one of those kids would have the same problem,
one of those kids could help me out. The genesis of this idea was a BPA project my junior year
of high school. It was, they kind of just tasked us with making education more social.
Our goal from the beginning was to create an educational site that had a social media
feel. Those are the mediums we can talk to our users most easily. So we’re constantly
getting feedback, we’re constantly listening to our users, and we use that feedback to
kind of model our site. That’s a huge part of our business; we listen to our customers,
and our customers make our business, basically. To initiate that business, Nelson and Dallago
received a great deal of help from Acting Director of The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial
Center, Lynn Allendorf. The Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory is a facility and program
that’s open to any U of I student who wants to start a business while they’re here at
Iowa. So there’s seventeen offices, sixteen of which are private offices for students
to have a place to go, and, you know, work on their business. Yeah, they introduced us
to lawyers, they introduced us to accountants, they gave us connections within Iowa City,
and they were awesome to us. It’s exciting to see where it was, and it’s exciting to
see where it could be. I just signed up for my classes, and it was awesome because there
was actually a few people already in the classes that I wanted to use, and people were already
sharing notes. Though Nelson and Dallago were initially met with negative feedback from
faculty, they haven’t experienced much tribulation with plagiarism or cheating on the site. Students
want to, to use the site to learn from each other and they want to use the site honestly.
We tend to see more, you know sharing of personal notes, sharing of, like, personal study reviews.
Not you know, professor-created content, and not, you know, copy written…like study guides
or books. Students can sign up and use the service for free, provided they have a university
email. So what keeps the site going? They’ve received 100,000 dollars from angel investors
and are researching ways to attain revenue independently. We have like fifteen things
mocked up and we’re gonna be testing some of them this semester, but it will always
stay free. That’s the main thing: it’ll always be free for the students.

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