KÜDZOO founders Logan Cohen and Trevor Wilkins are putting the "earning" in learning for more than half a million students, across 46,000 schools in the country.
“I think it's really important not to underestimate the power of recognition," says Cohen, 26. “Even just a gold star on your homework makes you feel good and empowered to work harder."
With the goal of engaging students in their education by leveraging the relationship they have with their smart phones, Cohen and Wilkins launched KÜDZOO in 2015. The app, which gives kids rewards for academic success, is designed to incentivize students to perform their academic best by offering them a litany of awards; everything from gift cards to concert tickets to one-of-a-kind experiences like meeting a famous athlete.
“We are saying rather than scrolling through a mindless newsfeed, you can practice your SATS and get rewarded," says Cohen. “We see a powerful connection between recognition and academic success, and we wanted to embrace a student-first model."
Cohen says it was actually Wilkins who first thought of the idea of reward-based learning, which was based on his own upbringing. As a child, Wilkins, who is now 27, earned $10 for every A and $5 for every B on his report cards, and Wilkins would have to fork over $20 for every C. It must have worked because Wilkins went on to earn a degree in sociology from Princeton University.
"The idea of rewards instilled a competitive mindset in my siblings that has lasted us our entire lives and pushed us all to Ivy League schools," Wilkins told SWAAY. In terms of what we want to do with KÜDZOO, Logan and I see a huge opportunity to make an impact inside of the classroom so that's where we're headed! We see KÜDZOO as a mutually beneficial tool for students, teachers and school admins alike. We've seen the competitive edge KÜDZOO has brought out in students from an individual standpoint and we're excited to bring that same impact to the classroom."
The KÜDZOO app
Cohen said before actually launching KÜDZOO, she and Wilkins held a focus group with 14 to 16 year olds who gave valuable insight regarding what should be, and shouldn't be, on the platform. “That's when we realized we didn't know what was cool anymore," laughs Cohen, who says she and Wilkins made edits to the site based on the students' critique. “The kids really helped us build it out."
To capitalize on the more than 150 times students typically check their phones a day, Cohen and Wilkins designed the app to have an interactive interface in which users can play grade level-based trivia games, in subjects that range from SAT Prep to pop culture. Students can also log in to earn KÜDZOO CASH for attendance by checking into school each day, for uploading their grades, participating in survey questions, and interact with friends on a social media-esque newsfeed.
According to Cohen, KÜDZOO is rolling out an in-school version for the 2017-2018 school year, which will allow teachers to customize questions and further incorporate their curriculums and lesson plans into the platform, with an in-school version called KÜDZOOVERIFIED. “We are looking to partner with schools who want to customize rewardable actions to reward their student achievers," says Cohen.
So what exactly are the rewards offered to KÜDZOO users? Cohen says thus far, more than $300K worth of rewards have been given to students. Some were funded outright, while some were given through brand partnerships. “We are now building out sponsorships," says Cohen. “Since we built critical mass, we are now opening to school districts who can come on as partners to fund rewards for students for customizable action. For example, some schools we are working with are focused on increasing attendance, so they would reward cash for attendance."
To stay ahead of the gifting trends among her user base, Cohen says she is constantly asking them what brands they like, then bringing them in as options for prizes. Among the most requested brands by highschoolers are Amazon, because of “the spending freedom," Target, Walmart and Forever 21. Cohen says college users love brands like Chipotle and Jamba Juice. “They ask for a lot of food at the college level," laughs Cohen, underscoring that the most important element of her business is remaining authentic and listening to feedback from her audience.
“Gen Z is incredibly savvy," says Cohen. “They've been marketing to out of the womb. With Gen Z the best you can get is brand consideration and that's a win. They know if they are being advertised to, so we don't sugarcoat. We try to be very transparent. Gen Z is turned off by native ads and anything that tries to trick them."
Looking to the future, Cohen is hoping to not only work closer with schools and brands alike, but also to grow her New York City-based team of six, in order to meet the enormous potential she sees in the scholastic space. The momentum thus far has certainly been a cause for optimism.
“We are finding exciting engagement from our users," says Cohen, adding that KÜDZOO boasts an impressive average click through rate of 30.2 percent. “Something we are really proud of is that 93 percent of students said that they believe KÜDZOO genuinely cares about their success. With less than 20 percent of Gen Z saying that brands "get them" this is something we strive for."
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!