Printed in Educational Marketer, March 3, 2017. (http://www.educationalmarketer.net/)
Despite company roots that go back to 2002, rSmart’s (Scottsdale, AZ) OneCampus is catching on as a next-generation cloud-based portal.
“We’re much more like a little startup now,” rSmart CEO Tony Potts told EM.
OneCampus was developed in conjunction with Indiana University and launched in late 2014. The idea behind the cloud-based portal is to make it easy to navigate web-based campus services—from bus schedules to health center services to bill paying or course information—in a mobile-friendly location.
Potts said they considered using open source technology—Potts and team had helped create the Open Source Portfolio Initiative, which became part of the Sakai project, and then with Indian University created the Kuali Foundation to create open source ERP software.
But when they went off on their own, Potts said they wanted more control. rSmart tapped Amazon Web Services for its cloud access.
Potts says the system is not designed to display content but to link to it “like when you do a Google search.” If a student is searching for a particular math program, OneCampus will take her to the program (though the content may be behind a login) not just to the math department.
“We are creating ‘connectors’ so people can pull in content from various systems,” Potts said.
Potts said the benefits of OneCampus include: higher levels of student engagement, reduced administrative costs, and increased productivity. Like all good startups, rSmart provides a feedback mechanism so customers can tell the company what they should develop next.
2016: Growth Year
In 2015, rSmart worked with a few institutions to get the campuses and the system working smoothly enough that they could be the examples for other schools. The University of Maryland went into production in three weeks; others take longer.
But that work and stepped-up sales and marketing efforts spurred growth in 2016. Currently, there are almost 1 million students and faculty in the U.S. using OneCampus.
The company’s first sale in Canada came in 2016. Currently, there are 27 institutions, including one school district, using OneCampus in the U.S. and Canada.
Potts said it was “a little early to talk about revenue,” but the rSmart website describes the cost of OneCampus as comparable to a cup of coffee a person.
The Year Ahead
rSmart plans to go for another funding round later this year. And, there are ideas percolating for new products. Indiana University has a couple of ideas, including two still under wraps but targeted for going to market in the second quarter and later in the year.
Potts said he expects to be aggressive on sales and marketing this year. While going to conferences helps in terms of connecting with institution administrators, it remains “frustrating” trying to get in front of college technology people, he said.
It is not always clear where the decision power lies—chief information officer, the curriculum or purchasing department, or the librarians? “Getting to that right person is incredibly difficult,” Potts said.