500 Startups-Funded OneSchool Raises $750K For College Student-Focused App

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OneSchool, a free mobile app for college students which provides easy access to maps, course schedules, directories, bus routes, news, student groups and more, is announcing its official launch today in eight universities around the U.S. The company is also revealing it has raised $750,000 in seed funding from 500 Startups, Learn Capital and Magnolia Ventures.

The startup, which had the honor of being the first to raise angel funding after participation in the minority-focused accelerator called NewMe, is also graduating from 500 Startups‘ fall class next month.

For those unaware, what OneSchool aims to offer is a single, mobile destination for college students to find everything they need about their campus. This includes the above-mentioned student directories, course listings, maps, groups, etc. There’s even a bulletin board-like feature dubbed the “Wall,” which is like a dumbed-down version of Facebook’s own Wall, supporting only text posts and image uploads (the latter coming soon). The application is available for the mobile web, iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, and requires an @edu address to sign up.

Currently more social utility than social network, OneSchool has been up-and-running in these eight schools since late August, but was in “testing mode” until today. It now supports Penn State, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, UCLA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Houston and the University of Waterloo.

To be clear, OneSchool isn’t partnering with the schools here – it’s pulling in publicly available information, and making it available in a useable mobile format. Based on demand, there are now 150 schools on the company waitlist, the company says. That’s one reason why they’re now considering creating a proces that would involve crowdsourcing techniques to get new schools online faster. However, no such tools are publicly available at this time.

In terms of market positioning, the company hopes to capitalize on the ubiquity of smartphones on college campuses today. “In 2008, just 10% of students across the country had smartphones,” says Co-founder and CEO David Adewumi, “but just last year, 57% of students were connecting to the Internet from their smartphone.”

Although some colleges and universities may have their own mobile applications, they don’t often include the kind of info students really need. The apps often are focused more on press releases and info for prospective students than on their current student population, the company found. There are also few schools that have even produced such an app, period. Says Adewumi, of the 4300 schools across the country, just 270 have a dedicated mobile application.

Clearly, the demand for this type of app has been high. At Penn State, the first school supported, OneSchool estimates that 83% of the iPhone and Android users on campus have adopted the app (based on current smartphone adoption rates). That’s 16,000 downloads out of 31,000 students, 18,000-20,000 of whom own a smartphone. Across the rest of the schools, around 50% of the undergrad population have done the same.

In addition to CEO David Adewumi (24), OneSchool’s young founders include CTO Pindi Albert (18) and Zach Johnston (20). David and Zach met at a fraternity at Penn State, where David’s father is a professor, and decided to create an entrepreneurship group there. Pindi, whose parents are also professors at Penn State, attended high school with David prior to joining OneSchool.

Adewumi says the idea for OneSchool came to him when he saw how much students were using their smartphones, including snapping photos of homework problems and texting them to friends for help.

“Students are really using their smartphones, but there wasn’t anything for them in a college-specific environment,” explains Adewumi. “Kids have had mobile phones for four to five years before coming into college. For most of these kids, their smartphone is their primary computing device…We saw that trend and realized there’s a big opportunity to deliver [OneSchool's content] on mobile devices.”