When Jeston George sold his direct marketing company two years ago, he was looking to start a new business that did more than just make money.
After discovering that his nephew’s school didn’t make information about campus-related events easily available to the public, he got the idea of building mobile apps for schools and school districts.
“I would get a notice the morning of an event and I had no way of knowing before,” he said.
“So, I checked to see if the school had an app I could put on my phone to keep up,” he explained. The school did not have an app and George felt like he had found an opportunity.
He was looking to do something with technology and realized that building apps for schools could have a huge impact on the way schools engage with their communities. The mission of Apptegy is simple, says the founder and CEO. Apptegy helps schools build better connections with their communities by using the best technology available.
ONE MORE THING TO UPDATE
As he began planning, researching and talking to school districts, George made a unique discovery.
“We would talk to districts, and they would tell us, ‘An app is great, but it’s just one more thing we would have to update.'”
In doing his research, he found that the real need wasn’t an app, but a unified publishing platform that makes it easy for schools to update the various channels they have to use to communicate across the spectrum.
“We are helping the schools build a better relationship with their community,” said David Allan, Chief Marketing Officer for Apptegy.
When George went back to his idea, he pivoted and developed a complete platform for schools to easily update information – in some cases critical information – that can be pushed out to all of the various channels including Facebook, Twitter, websites and other social media.
A PACKAGED SOLUTION
“When a school district signs up, they get the whole package,” George said.
“We do the up-front work, get them set up with the website and their native app for the Apple and Android stores,” explained Josiah Brann, iOS developer/Project Manager.
Then, school gets to use the company’s publishing platform, called ThrillShare, to operate its digital channels.
The platform comes with an app that school-approved publishers can use to push out information including notifications and an alert system.
The platform is easy to operate and, according to George, it helps to “remove the technological barrier.”
George added that while technology is supposed to make things easier, with each new function – such as social media and websites – it has often made it harder for school districts.
“This has been the norm,” he said, “we want to flip the norm.”
Apptegy started with a handful of customers while working out any problems, however, the company has recently doubled in size and now has 14 school districts signed up for their product including Arkadelphia School District.
Superintendent, Dr. Donnie Whitten has definitely been pleased.
“This is so easy, why isn’t every school district using this?” Whitten said.
In the past month, the company has picked up several new employees pushing the team’s size to 11. David Allan was added a few weeks ago as well as Brann. In addition, Apptegy has four team members responsible for sales, two for client experience helping with on-boarding, and two other members of the development team.
One thing George is proud of is the user experience related to design. One of the team members is responsible for design and the result is a very modern, clean design experience for the school district.
Venture capital is helping support growth.
“We have raised from Hayseed Ventures [started by John James], Tonic and FAF. John James and Hayseed is our lead investor. John is also on Governor Hutchinson’s Stem Task Force,” George said.
Although Apptegy is an Arkansas company, Allan says the company will be marketing outside of Arkansas within just a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Apptegy will be moving from the Venture Center where it has been working to a new home in downtown Little Rock.
The company is a home-grown Arkansas company, based in Arkansas, led by Arkansans and funded by Arkansans. George and his team are poised to make a big impact in the world of digital content distribution in the education industry.
Watch an interview with Jeston George below.
(Photo: Sean Ruggles, Josiah Brann, Jeston George, David Allan)