Four years after Starkville-based education platform CampusKnot launched, the company formed by three Mississippi State students has received a $100,000 grant to expand its online marketing.
CampusKnot grants online interaction between teachers and students, and the company has been steadily growing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as the demand for online education increases. The grant comes from Innovate Mississippi, a nonprofit organization geared toward cultivating innovative technology and entrepreneurship.
Co-founder and CEO of CampusKnot Rahul Gopal said the company has not invested in online marketing since the company began. This $100,000 Seed Fund grant from Innovate Mississippi, the second such grant CampusKnot has received, he said, will give the company the means to carry out its new marketing plan, including paid advertisements and social media promotions.
Along with the fund, the company acquired investors over the past year to match the money received from Innovate Mississippi to equal $200,000 for marketing campaigns.
“There are a lot of professors, especially in this unprecedented time, who our platform could support,” Gopal said. “There are a lot of professors looking for new ways to teach, but if they search for it, and it doesn’t show up, we don’t get anywhere. This funding will help us create a marketing plan and put it in place.”
Gopal, along with classmates Hiten Patel and Perceus Mody, all from India, created the idea for this social-media teaching outlet in 2012 at MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the College of Business. It now operates out of its parent office in downtown Starkville and subsidiary office in India.
CampusKnot functions through a website and mobile app, Gopal said, and clients have access to course materials and communication features.
“We realized that there was a need for a platform like this,” Gopal said. “We wanted to play a role in terms of whatever we can do to help out schools and institutions and professors and students to ease the amount of pressure and stress they are in.”
Dozens of colleges and universities, including Mississippi University for Women and University of Southern Mississippi, as well as middle and high schools utilize the social platform’s teaching tools. The company has also spread to schools in countries across the world including Italy, India and Ghana to name a few.
“We originally started off as a platform for two students to connect with each other academically without having that social barrier, so they could help each other out in the classroom,” Gopal said. “We started out as just three people with an idea from scratch, and now we are a cross-continental operation.”
Before COVID-19, Gopal said CampusKnot focused its teaching toward in-person classroom settings. After education became virtual, the company added new online features, including communication enhancements and integrating applications such as Cisco WebEx and Zoom to the platform.
Innovate Mississippi Investment Manager Lindsey Benefield said she and her organization have enjoyed watching CampusKnot grow ever since their partnership began in 2017. She expressed that CampusKnot is an outstanding representation of how the technology ecosystem has cultivated in Mississippi.
“I love working with CampusKnot and watching the business develop into what it is today,” Benefield said. “It’s a multinational company, and it takes a lot of work to launch a startup. They’ve worked really hard, and I can’t wait to see them continue to grow.”
Gopal said the company sees at least 1,000 active customers a day, but with the new marketing strategy, he anticipates 4,000 to 5,000 daily customers and 15,000 to 20,000 paid subscribers every four months. He said CampusKnot will implement this marketing plan within the next four to five months.
“We built a strong, solid foundation, and we are ready to take it to the next level,” Gopal said. “Now, with the Seed Fund and our investors, we can grow and scale the company to what its true potential is.”