Childhood friends Connor Garrett and Alex Chung had always dreamed of starting a business together. While attending Berry College and Kennesaw State University respectively, the duo experienced a melding of the minds.
Garrett was writing for the school newspaper, taking a full course load, and playing college soccer. Chung was waiting tables, working as a resident assistant, participating as an active member of Theta Chi fraternity, and taking a full load of classes himself. On several occasions, they commiserated about feeling like there wasn’t time to find study partners in the time crunch among classes, work and other obligations. During the rare times they got together, they started batting around ideas to address that issue. The budding entrepreneurs noticed that their peers used the school libraries as a place to socialize.
“That was our eureka moment,” says Chung.
Garrett adds, “Millennials love collaboration. What we created is the solution to a real but overlooked problem. Sometimes the most disruptive innovations are hiding in plain sight. We wanted to create the first swipe-based academic social network.”
The Atlanta-based duo assembled the brightest and best they knew, including Garrett’s college classmate and creative mastermind Jawad Mazhir, based out of Midtown, and Chung’s coworker and creative director Erick Dauberger of Buckhead, and childhood friend and SEO specialist Richard Fendler, based in Marina del Rey, Calif. One of the last but most important additions to the team was millennial angel investor and expert salesman Anuj Thakkar of Midtown, who provided the first seed investment.
Cracking the Code to Going Viral
Founders Garrett, an advertising copywriter, and Chung, a sales manager, both quit jobs to pour their energy into the launch of the StudyHubb app. The team tested the app at Georgia State University, where Mazhir just received his master’s in marketing, during the last week of the Spring semester. Then based on beta user feedback, the entrepreneurs spent the next three weeks debugging and improving their product. Undeterred by the fact that fewer students are enrolled during the summer months, Garrett and Chung personally promoted StudyHubb at their alma maters, Georgia Tech University and Georgia State University. The duo managed to acquire more than 3,000 users with a zero-dollar marketing approach by the second week of the Fall semester.
The biggest challenge in their quest to go viral is making sure they concentrate their efforts campus-by-campus so that their users have sufficient numbers of peers to swipe through. However, the team is energized by the fact that 1,500 of their first 3,000 downloads are Kennesaw State University (KSU) students, providing them evidence that this approach is working. “I’ve only had StudyHubb on my phone two weeks, and I already have a ton of matches. It’s like Tinder, but for studying,” says KSU freshman Gabby Weaver.
“Tinder hit a tipping point with just 15,000 users,” says Garrett. “Part of the reason it’s been so easy to get our users to download StudyHubb is because millennials are spread thin and overwhelmed, so now more than ever, they are looking for new ways to connect with one another.”
“The thing that makes me happiest is what we keep hearing from our early adopters: How has nobody thought of this already?” says Chung. “To me, that’s proof that our target demographic has an obvious need. The concept is clear, simple and convenient.”
Garrett and Chung project that with the larger group of students enrolled in fall classes, they will hit 10,000 users before the semester ends.
“Our goal is to eventually be as big of a brand name as Tinder, SnapChat or Instagram,” says Garrett. “If we do that, we will be the first app to give edtech that coveted cool factor.”