StudentCart: integrating technology and the school marketplace

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The Hammadi brothers at their Flat6Labs demo day earlier this year. (Image via Flat6Labs)

When a child begins the year at a private school, parents have to budget for a range of things from books to uniforms to extra-curricular activities and field trips.

Purchasing these items can be annoying for parents who have a variety of vendors to choose from, and they also have to make several individual payments for the different items.   

There are several ways that banks and credit card companies are helping parents save a few pennies. For example, some credit cards offer cash back on payments made on school items, or vendors provide discounted deals for those who choose to use a bank payment option.

UAE-based StudentCart has created a solution for parents to simplify the whole process. Their startup is a dedicated marketplace for essential school products and services.

After their success with Slices, a startup offering healthier meals for students in schools through in-house cantinas, cofounders Hamad and Faisal Al Hammadi wanted to address the challenge of managing vendors of other school essentials.

The way it works with StudentCart.

Ecommerce for parents

Launched in January 2016, StudentCart provides a payment and feedback platform for parents paying for school items, including uniforms and reserve and pay for school transportation for their children on the platform. There is an option for parents to pay by credit card or cash at the school upon ordering online.

A school first decides on which vendors they want to work with. The parents then make their purchases and rate the vendor. Schools have access to the ratings (even vendors offered by other schools). As a result, schools can make “informed decisions about vendors” when choosing who to partner with, according to cofounder Faisal.  

By June 2016 StudentCart hopes to activate the platform in four schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to provide uniforms, transportation and school supplies to students and parents. The schools range from kindergarten to high school. By the beginning of the school year in August 2016, they hope to expand to 12 schools in the UAE. Their goal is to secure 100 schools in two years with the first round of funding in 2018.

Hamad and Faisal entered the Flat6Labs program with an idea and business plan last year.

They both came from finance backgrounds and needed to learn the technology piece to developing such a platform. “If we were doing the platform by ourselves we would not be doing it,” Faisal said. It took a team to help them develop the platform and bring their idea to reality.

The US-based platform School Pay has similarities to StudentCart, and vendors in the UAE are starting to provide online payments.  

However, there has not yet been one consolidated platform for all vendors that parents can easily access.

The StudentCart team sees a potential market beyond the UAE. It hopes to launch the platform in the GCC in two years, as well as expand offerings to other extra-curricular activities, such as field trips, offered by the schools. The team is currently speaking to investors to raise more funds and further develop services offered on the platform.  

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