The Daily Scholar
Most Innovative Startup
Since launching in July 2014, The Daily Scholar has changed the way the next generation has conversations and handles conflict with a comprehensive cloud-based publication software. Co-founders Tim Dygon and Andrew Goodall took their beta software through The eFactory’s accelerator program and used market research and beta testing to learn where their software fits best. Introducing the software in higher education demonstrated how many students come to college with poor communication skills. So, they pivoted and went straight to the source: high school classrooms. “We’re focusing on selling our product to large public school districts who already have a budget for e-learning and new software,” Goodall says. Beta testing in 13 school districts allowed the co-founders to meet teachers’ requests. They added educational pieces and made the site more dynamic, allowing admins to pick modules, change labels and adjust color schemes to create a site customized for their classrooms.
The spirit of The Daily Scholar lies in how technology should supplement, not supplant, human interaction. “So many areas of life are qualitative rather than quantitative,” Dygon says. The software capitalizes on two proven retention techniques—teaching peers and discussing—to develop students’ communication skills. And it works. “We’ve seen students interact more in person after interacting online through the software,” Dygon says. Tapping into the familiar communication patterns of social media helps bridge the gap between social and academic communication. “The way [students] interact all the time is online,” Goodall says. “We’re taking those core features and intuitively taking the way they learn and share.” What’s next for the pair and The Daily Scholar? The partners are developing a stand-alone app with their debate platform and raising capital to go to market this fall.
What The Daily Scholar Has Learned Since Launching Five Years Ago
“The financial industry is so much more savvy. Even four years ago it was easier for a startup to get funded. The Midwest has a different concept of a startup, and tech companies want to invest with revenue. We’re slowly gaining traction to meet in the middle. We really want to raise funds in 417[-land] and bootstrapping is priority No. 1.” —Andrew Goodall
“How to say no and stick with no. When you’re idea people, it’s really hard to say no.” —Tim Dygon
“The startup world can be a lot of smoke and mirrors. There’s lots of support when starting, but when it comes to follow through and progress beyond the idea it’s a lot more rare. You have to prove yourself in this space. It’s not that easy or fun all the time.” —A.G.
“Going through this process means competing advice. Be confident in your idea but be flexible. And if your heart’s not in it, don’t do it.” —T.D.