Industry: Educational Technology
Founding Student Name(s): Jude Lugo
Brief Description of Solution: LectureLogger is a simple-to-use student app and QR code technology that allows classroom professors to focus less on the mechanics of taking attendance and more on attendance data to support student wellness and retention. Students can benefit by knowing exactly how they’re doing in class. It’s especially beneficial for professors and administrators to help students at the highest risk for retention issues—often historically disadvantaged students, such as first-generation students. With LectureLogger, we are seeking to identify these students before it’s too late so that instructors and administrators can offer support that keeps students learning at their current institution.
Funding Dollars: $7,000
What led you to launch this venture? As a student, I noticed a range of inefficiencies in the way my professors tracked class attendance. It was hard for me to track my own absences and which ones were or were not excused. I also became aware that classmates who weren’t held accountable for missing classes were falling behind. Meanwhile, I saw a real inconsistency between the attendance policies of each professor. Some had even given up on taking attendance, instead giving everyone a 100 or using easily cheatable methods.
Realizing that there is benefit and even power in accurate attendance data, I launched LectureLogger. With SMU’s growing emphasis on student wellness and retention, LectureLogger can make a positive difference. The data it gathers helps professors and administrators identify students who are at risk and enables them to reach out to avert an academic crisis that could have negative ripple effects on a student’s overall well-being. That is a benefit I couldn’t have imagined when I first launched LectureLogger, but it is now a core part of our mission.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? 25% of undergraduate students at SMU use LectureLogger to track their classroom attendance!
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? Businesspeople like to help businesspeople. Many of our great professors and administrators at the Cox School of Business have helped me to develop, refine, and share the LectureLogger app, which has been incredibly valuable in trying to implement it across the SMU campus and beyond.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? During my management class with Professor Scott Hensley, I was able to observe some of the inefficiencies tied to traditional attendance taking. Now, Prof. Hensley uses LectureLogger in all of his classes with both undergraduate and graduate students.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Accounting Professor Eric Marrs has always been willing to listen to my ideas and help me refine them. Professor Marrs has never taken attendance in his classroom, but he believes the data to be gained is valuable so long as the collection process isn’t cumbersome. With that in mind, I worked with Professor Marrs to build out LectureLogger. Now, he’s piloting the app in all of his classes.
Entrepreneurship Professor Simon Mak encouraged me to find the social good in my venture. He challenged me to look at LectureLogger as more than an attendance app and consider the impact on student wellness and retention, an issue important to our university—and one that universities across the country are looking to tackle right now.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? I’ve been most inspired by other student entrepreneurs that I’ve met over these past few years. SMU Cox BBA alumnus Raleigh Dewan, who just graduated in May, showed me what’s possible when it comes to trying a variety of ideas to find out what sticks. Cox Alumni Seun Suberu showed me the importance of educational technology apps that can support student learning.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? I believe there is significant potential to market the LectureLogger solution to universities across the globe. The issue of retention is a big one. In the U.S., the federal government has offered more than $35 billion in grants to support retention efforts. Retention is also a factor in rankings, which arguably affects a university’s academic reputation and its recruitment potential.
Beyond that, LectureLogger’s dynamic code technology is unique and can be used in a variety of other applications to ensure security and data accuracy.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? I decided to pitch LectureLogger just one day before our school’s “Big iDeas” student startup pitch competition. I was preparing another idea, but decided to pitch this one as well. Not only did LectureLogger win valuable funding, but I also gained a helpful mentor in the form of SMU’s Associate Provost for Student Engagement and Success Dr. Sheri Kunovich, who happened to be in the room when I made my pitch. Dr. Kunovich offered additional startup funding, which helped me to develop my initial MVP, and connected me with professors who are currently piloting LectureLogger in their classrooms.
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