Two Georgia State alumni have teamed up to tackle the problem every college club president has dealt with: How do you get students to come to meetings once you run out of free pizza?
Vishwa Mudigonda and Viraj Patel, who graduated from GSU with BBA and MBA respectively, started KemNu to help spark social connections. Like many students, Mudigonda told Hypepotamus that “when we were students, we would show up to the first meeting of the club, maybe there’s a free pizza or free food.” But after that, engagement with extracurricular or academic clubs often ends.
What started as a simple hangout platform to connect people based on similar interests pivoted after going through Georgia State’s Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund and Georgia Tech’s Create-X.
Like many startups going through accelerators, the KemNu team realized they had to refine their target market. “As we continued with customer discovery we realized that we needed to build a platform to improve quality engagement for college students,” said Mudigonda.
This is particularly important for universities, which have seen nearly a 50% drop in student engagement over the course of the last five years. That statistic, of course, has only increased as the pandemic wreaked havoc on student-based activities and programs.
Coming from the combination of two Gujrati phrases meaning What’s up, new friend?, KemNu has remained open to the public during the pandemic. Those interested in connecting with people around Atlanta through virtual hangouts — like game nights or movie nights — can join. “We want to help people in the post-pandemic situation right now…what we want to say is, hey, you can still stay at home and participate in different activities with different people,” added Mudigonda.
Some virtual events on the platform currently include ‘Let’s talk stocks’ and a Netflix & Hulu movie recommendation hangout.
The team sees a unique opportunity as universities look for better ways to encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities and campus events. For Mudigonda, KemNu is a “singular platform that brings students, college organizations and local businesses together.”
The platform has gamified the process of getting students more connected and evolved. KemNu tracks student engagement and participation in virtual and in-person events, and students in turn earn Kenmu Coins. These coins can be redeemed for exclusive offers at local businesses.
The team is particularly focused on connecting students with local minority-owned businesses “to grow and attract more customers.”
For college club organizers, the KemNu team is building out a logistics and metrics dashboard to help track membership dues, set board member roles, and organize different administrative tasks.
KemNu is currently being used by five clubs at Georgia State, and the team is targeting an expansion onto Georgia Tech’s campus. Ultimately, they see opportunities for licensing the platform by universities in order to keep up with student engagement opportunities.
The team is currently building out the Android and desktop versions of the platform and will be looking to raise pre-seed funding soon.