Orlando, Fla. (March 11, 2021) – In 2015, Shayna Rosen was struggling in an online course at the University of Central Florida. In an effort to connect with her peers, she reached out to her fellow classmates through Webcourses, UCF’s learning management system, to set up a study date.
Only one student showed up. With each other’s support, they aced the class and realized the sheer importance of peer learning.
Today, Rosen and that student, Austin Drury, are turning their experience into a company by launching a new application designed to facilitate these connections.
And this month, StudyDate launched a pilot program with the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management available to all 3,000 hospitality students throughout the spring.
“Over time, we expressed a mutual frustration of feeling that the education system hadn’t yet caught up to contemporary students’ needs and lifestyles,” Drury says. “In today’s fast-paced, highly-technological society, there had to be a better way.”
The two spent 2017 and 2018 conducting market research aimed at identifying higher-ed student and institutional pain points. This data driven approach allowed them to fine-tune their services to maximize benefits for both schools and students.
This gave them the confidence to launch StudyDate in 2018. To bring the application to life, they partnered with a leading mobile-first development firm.
StudyDate is a social-academic platform that connects students with peers and tutors, anytime, anywhere. A mobile application designed for the modern-day student, StudyDate renders matches both at a student’s school and across the nation. Users can chat with peers, join study groups, and engage with qualified tutors – entirely subscription free.
StudyDate is a project Lori Stafford, director of Student Services, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, has been watching grow since the beginning. She was the professor whose pitch competition helped turn this class project into a business.
“The availability of this virtual platform will be a game-changing resource to enhance engagement and academic success,” Safford says. “Our students will benefit tremendously from having 24-hour access to peer support and professional tutors.”
Over the past year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education has seen a significant acceleration of virtual education.
“We are especially excited at the prospect of becoming a part of the accelerated growth trajectory of e-learning and the overall modernization of higher-ed,” Drury says. “The opportunity to trial the application during such a critical time for students, to truly be able to make an impact, is nothing short of a privilege.”
StudyDate joined the UCF Business Incubation Program last year as one of the companies in the Downtown Innovation District. Educational technology is one of the key industries for that district.
The new pilot project showcases one of the key drivers of the Innovation Districts as a whole, driving greater connectivity between the incubators and the broader resources of the university.
“What you are seeing from the Incubation Program are a host of new services and new connections designed to help the companies in more ways than we ever have before,” says Rob Panepinto, director, Innovation Districts Strategy and Partnerships. “StudyDate showed they had a strong concept that will take off with opportunities and because of that increased connectivity, we were able to help them with something businesses need and want – a live test of their technology.”
Drury and Rosen plan to utilize the data collected to optimize the technology and enhance the student benefit. They hope to soon partner University-wide and open enrollment to the platform on a national level.
For more information, please contact:
UCF Business Incubation Program: Rob Panepinto, director, Innovation Districts Strategy and Partnerships for the University of Central Florida, 407-467-5689, firstname.lastname@example.org or Alan Byrd, Alan Byrd & Associates, 407-415-8470, Alan@ByrdConnections.com
StudyDate is a consumer facing B2B education technology company founded by two former students on a mission to modernize higher-ed. StudyDate is designed to improve student outcomes and increase educational equity by providing students with a premium virtual academic resource. For more information, visit studydateapp.com
About the UCF Business Incubation Program:
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.
With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit Incubator.UCF.edu