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Communication Tool Built for Students

ClusterFlunk, founded in 2011 in Greater Des Moines (DSM), allows students to instant message, download study guides and lectures specifically for their classes. Co-Founder AJ offers insight on raising money, naming the business, marketing tactics and more.


AJ discusses listening to feedback during your startup’s idea stage, creating trust with potential investors and learning when to move forward with expansion. After spending time in the wrong areas and learning along the way, ClusterFlunk found its way by listening to customers and focusing on those first customers. Focusing in on one solution or product first also allows you to become an expert in one thing before expanding. ClusterFlunk itself loses traction in the summer due to students not being in school and customers drop off when they graduate as well. In the future, these are things ClusterFlunk’s team will work out.

Raising Equity

In the early stages, AJ says you should put your time into your product, your users and gaining traction. Once you have the correct product, the right people will come to you. The best time to meet people is when you don’t need money, you need mentors. Gain trust by letting them watch you grow from the idea stage to the raising equity stage.



AJ explains how a simple equation, growth equals other people plus content minus marketing messages, is what they build their marketing plan around. Essentially, that other people’s voices are stronger than your company’s.