Q&A with StudyBooster

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'Study Boosters' (from left to right) Stefan Williams, Dominic Bressan and Jorden Minos

We chat with the budding entrepreneurs from StudyBooster (studyboosters.com) and find out how they can help you set goals, study hard and profit from it.

INTERVIEW Rachel Worsley

How does your website work?

Jorden (J): It’s a website that allows uni or high school students to set themselves a goal that is academically related, it might be getting an A or getting a distinction average for this semester. They can then share that goal with their families and friends and invite them to sponsor to achieve them for the goal. If they end up achieving the goal, then they get the money back from the sponsors. If the goal is not achieved, there is an option for the sponsor to ask for a refund.

How did you come up with the initial idea?

Dominic (D): I finished off my MBA last year and I was procrastinating online rather than working and I came across a study by Harvard professor Roland G. Fryer Jnr in 2010 and it was the largest university study ever done on incentivising students. What they found was that if it was done correctly, literally paying students to learn could be effective, so that was very interesting. Both my co-founder Stefan and I were very interested in the concept of Kickstarter, so sort of combined the concept of the Harvard study with the Kickstarter crowdfunding concept to make StudyBooster. We are all self-funded.

Who is your intended audience?

J: The intended audience is students – high school students and university students. The other target market is parents, we are looking to target it at parents because they would be sponsoring their children to support their goals.

D: There is a feature to ask their parents to sponsor them. What we found, because we’re so very new, is that most people set their goals for a few weeks rather than a semester or year. We’ve only had a few people achieve those goals. The majority of research show that shorter sequential goals are much more effective at motivating and achieving goals.

Devil’s advocate question: does it undermine intrinsic motivation?

D: The reality is parents can not always motivate their kids. Students may enjoy English and History, but they might not enjoy Maths so much. You have set those goals, achieved them, and that teaches them the mastery of goal-setting. They could assist people in areas where they have less motivation. You are taught some good goal-setting behaviours.

J: In future versions of the website, we are thinking of building gift options and vouchers, at the moment is monetary. Companies who are focused on students and education can redeem their services.

D: We are talking to Zookal, to work with them a little more and aim to help uni students with textbooks. We like what each other are doing.

What’s the future for this website?

D: We have a whole range of things. Obviously, we want to move comprehensively to mobile, want to build some further relationships with companies in order to redeem their vouchers. We have a charity component; a percentage of funds go to Save the Children, we like to broaden that goal, maybe students can participate in that charity and rather than simply donating funds. We would like to open up to other charities and give students a different change.

J: In terms of the target market: to as many high school students as possible, if this was very effective and if they find it useful, to make it a tool for their education. They learn to earn cash as a reward. It’s a motivational tool, and also from the perspective of friends and family, it’s a way of helping them follow their progress and support them to use the tool. A means of tracking their progress throughout school.

D: It’s good for nternational students. It gives families and friends back home to see their goals and see how they make it through school and university. They don’t have much awareness, a great sense of community. It fosters that.

What’s the hardest part of starting up StudyBooster?

D: The feeling that you’re never quite ready, there’s so many things you want to do with the website to develop it, but at some point you have to get it out there and get the feedback and keep developing. It’s hard to draw the line when you know there’s so much more you can do with it. The high achievers to achieve high achievers, and for those who struggle to achieve their goals.

Is StudyBooster fitting into that niche market of student motivation and achievement?

D: We hope it’s not niche, it’s something that can benefit every students. It’s a tool for the high achievers to achieve high achieving goals, and right through to those who struggle to achieve their goals or find it hard to motivate themselves through class. Their parents, friends can get the spark and interest in what they’re doing. It’s a great reward base.

How about framework to achieve those goals?

J: We want to create StudyBooster to be a one-stop shop for setting goals, providing framework and working towards goals, we want to create study tips and a forum to share ideas.

D: We want to build that education hub and their goal-setting. Like-minded companies can help make things easier for students. It teaches students of how to set goals, how to define end-date and that’s an effective way to set goals. And the goals, it depends if you want to share it with everyone, if they just want to share it with their parents, aunties and uncles, then they can.