Turned Down by the MacArthur DML Competition – Staying Sustainable

MacArthur Foundation Submission

The Conference on the First-Year Experience was a fantastic event for us because Red Rover** was very popular. The attendees were a mix of student advisors, deans, faculty, and librarians. Each group had a slightly different curiosity for Red Rover, but they all had one question in common and it was probably the most popular question we received:

“So if Red Rover is free for any school to use, what’s in it for you or how do you make money?”

Great question, and I am sure many of our readers are probably wondering the same thing. To keep Red Rover sustainable we have several options:

Option A – Apply for grants such as the MacArthur DML Competition. There are many grants out there, but the DML was our first attempt. We knew it was our lottery ticket strategy and that turned out to be true as the winners were announced** today and didn’t include Red Rover 🙁 We’ll do some more thinking on why that was, and post our thoughts here. We need a little time to go through who did win and do the comparison. Either way, it brings us to . . .

Option B – Adding paid extension features as SurveyMonkey does. In addition to the always free core Red Rover tool, there will be a menu for schools to pick extra paid features if interested. (Expected to be released toward the end of the year)

Option C – Develop the free platform then offer paid integrated support similar to Red Hat. We already offer a technology-integrated solution for a select number of schools.

Option D – Raise capital. We’ve talked about this option a lot as it wouldn’t be hard for us to raise capital. Our two sticky points are that it would distract us from the development and marketing for about two months and secondly, we are not sure how investors would feel about us being in education and vice versa.

Option E, F, G, H… – If we need to, we can go here.

On our list of motivations for starting Swift Kick, financial gain is listed as the 4th or 5th reason. We are much more interested in changing education, helping students, and challenging our current skill set. In the theme of working in the open, we do plan to post more of our partnership charter on here. But at the end of the day, we can’t eat Ramon noodles forever.

In 2007 was grossed about $165,000 from speaking. A big piece went to pay for the development of Red Rover. This year we are already grossing $100,000 for the first quarter. It sounds impressive, however, we are still using most of that money to pay for Red Rover and the other members of the Swift Kick crew. Many times, as the founders, Kevin and I haven’t taken a monthly salary to make sure everyone else is paid. It can hurt.

We are committed to Red Rover because we believe in the impact it will have, and we receive validation for our belief from the many schools we talk to and tell us they are excited to use it. So onward we march!

** Link Broken as of June/2019

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