Tania Mulry created a mobile app that truly has a purpose. The app, edRover created by EdRover Inc. pairs parents’ desire to help schools’ need to obtain the funds for educational supplies and, businesses’ desire to help schools while attracting customers. The app is currently available for iPhone and Widows Phone 7 platforms, and will become available for Android and Blackberry later this year.
The edRover mobile application allows consumers to direct donations from participating businesses to the school of their choice. Early this year edRover was selected by both AT&T and Microsoft for prestigious best application awards:
• AT&T’s “Open Call-Apps for All” competition – Best Social Good Application
• Microsoft – Grand prize “Fast Pitch” winner
MO: Explain the user experience for edRover.
Tania: edRover is exceptionally easy to use. Anyone with an iPhone or Windows Phone can download the app for free, complete a brief registration and begin checking in at participating businesses. Each time someone uses edRover to record a visit at a sponsoring location using the app’s “check-in” feature, a donation is transferred from the participating business’ edRover account to the educational program identified by the app user. It’s a simple, convenient and free way to raise money for schools.
MO: Explain how businesses can use edRover for marketing purposes.
Tania: Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to do business with companies that support community organizations, especially if the consumer is particularly passionate about the organization. Parents are particularly passionate about their children’s education. edRover allows participating businesses to increase awareness, drive customer referrals, target consumers with specific promotional messages and save time. Sponsoring businesses are profiled within the mobile app as well as on edRover.com. The app also allows users to promote businesses using social sharing features, email and text messages. Many participating businesses opt to show promotional messages on the users’ screens upon check-in as a way to increase engagement and encourage the consumer to come into the establishment. Finally, edRover handles all of the reporting and account management for participating businesses, which allows them to identify which programs their dollars have supported.
MO: Why did you decide to create this app and had you had experience with app creation before?
Tania: Many factors contributed to my inspiration for edRover. As the mother of three school-age boys, I was all-too-familiar with the constant flow of fundraising requests and community fundraisers for her kids’ school. My first foray into school fundraising occurred when my first son was just six months old, and I was handed a catalog for wrapping paper. When I expressed that my baby could not sell wrapping paper for the school, I quickly learned that I was the one who would be selling the wrapping paper and many other fundraising products on behalf of my children. Another source of inspiration was a long line of educators in both my and my husband’s families. I have the highest respect and admiration for the important role they have played over the decades. Alas, I always yearned to do something that truly made a difference in the lives of others. Even as a child I dreamt up ways to raise money for underprivileged children in other countries.
I have assisted myriad national brands in creating mobile marketing strategies including mobile applications, websites and text messaging programs prior to launching edRover. I applied that knowledge to planning and launching edRover.
MO: What was the biggest challenge when first creating edRover?
Tania: There were many challenges in creating a new mobile app, including:
• Identifying an affordable app developer who could understand and execute on my vision.
• Assembling a team of professionals to enthusiastically spread the word about edRover, simultaneously generating interest from businesses, schools and consumers.
• Adjusting the edRover timeline as development and implementation plans as new challenges and opportunities arose.
• Shifting consumers’ expectations about how school fundraising can be done.
MO: How is edRover different than school programs like General Mills box tops, and Target give back program?
Tania: edRover includes characteristics of both of these programs and the app has been compared to these types of fundraising initiatives, which is great as it helps people better understand how the app works.
Like both of these programs, edRover allows consumers to direct funds to the school of their choice with minimal effort. As with Box Tops, these small increments can add up to substantial donations as more consumers participate.
edRover’s approach differs from that of Target in that it engages a multitude of businesses – both local and national. Through edRover’s check-in feature, consumers are able to channel donations to their school program even if no purchase is made.
MO: What is next on the horizon for edRover?
Tania: We intend to make edRover for additional smart phone platforms in the coming months. The entire edRover team is working on making more businesses, educators and consumers aware of the app and what it can mean to America’s students.
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