Home Feature Turning Grades Into Gift Cards: Meet The Entrepreneur Behind Schoolconomy

Turning Grades Into Gift Cards: Meet The Entrepreneur Behind Schoolconomy

by Maija Ehlinger

School is a full-time job. But why don’t students get paid for their efforts?

Regnault Drake Sanders, a Kennesaw State University graduate and Georgia native, thought that needed to change. That was why he created Schoolconomy, a digital platform that allows students to get paid for their grades

Students – whether in kindergarten or college – upload their report cards and test scores. The platform assigns points according to the grade received. Students then use their points as cash, in the form of digital gift cards, through Schoolconomy’s rewards partners. There are currently 11 reward partners – ranging from Bar Vegan to Divine Timing Watches.

Rethinking Grading

But getting straight As isn’t necessarily the goal, Sanders said.

“Our primary focus is on improvement,” Sanders told Hypepotamus. “To us, going from a C to a B to us is the equivalent of being at an A two semesters in a row.  [Those students] and their progress is the biggest thing for us. We’re here for the student in the middle. We’re here for the student that goes unnoticed and isn’t doing amazing or in the top 10%…but they are in the middle and a few decisions can make the difference in life.”

As of last week, the platform has acquired over 1,200 users.

The first group of users signed on after Sanders took a trip to Dallas, Texas and got connected with teachers receptive to the concept.

The first pilot school was Charles Drew High School and Riverdale, Georgia. In the early stages of launching Schoolconomy, one of the popular rewards has been an Amazon gift card. The startup is funding most of the gift cards, but Sanders said he is looking for more rewards partners to grow the platform.

Individual students can sign up now by downloading the Schoolconomy via the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. The startup is building up a B2B model to work directly with schools as well.

Building At KSU

Schoolconomy is personal for Sanders. He said he watched his cousin drop out of the eleventh grade to make money. And that is a national trend, with the National Center for Education Statistics reporting financial problems as a top reason why students dropout of high school.

Sanders graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2018 and went to work as a General Manager at LA Fitness in the Metro Atlanta area. He recently returned to campus in search of resources available to alumni entrepreneurs. He connected with the HatchBridge Incubator, a collaboration studio for those building in and around the university.  This year he secured non-dilutive funding from the Mookerji Innovation Fund that is available for students and recent alumni.

While he had the idea years before, Sanders started working on developing the Schoolconomy in October of 2022 with an offshore team. The product officially launched in January.

Right now, Sanders said he is focused on building up both sides of the marketplace by bringing on new rewards partners and students.

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