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ClusterFlunk founders take “leap of faith,” leave school to build company

ClusterFlunk co-founders Joe Dallago and AJ Nelson pose at their startup’s launch party in January.

Six months ago Iowa City-based startup clusterFlunk was little more than an idea. Now co-founders Joe Dallago and AJ Nelson have stopped attending the University of Iowa to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

“We are working on clusterFlunk full time and are excited about it,” Nelson said. “It was cool to take our ‘leap of faith,’ and we’re ready to keep building the company.”

And so far, they have. Since the company launched in January, the two-person team has courted more than 2,650 users from four schools to the site.

The pair created the virtual meeting place to allow students enrolled in the same course to collaborate on assignments, help one another study before tests and share notes more efficiently.

Now at least 10 percent of the undergraduate student body at the University of Iowa has registered for the site—that’s roughly 2,300 out of the university’s 22,000 students.

“It was a big milestone for us to have this kind of engagement,” Nelson told Silicon Prairie News.

During the university’s final exam week, clusterFlunk averaged 437 downloads per day, meaning that students were downloading class notes, study guides and old exam copies. The site also saw 90 new registrations per day as students prepared for the end of the semester.

Users of clusterFlunk can share files, such as lecture notes, with classmates on the network.

ClusterFlunk’s services are now available to students at four schools: University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and Cornell College in Mount Vernon.

The startup also recently gained a new advisor when Dwolla founder and CEO Ben Milne agreed to counsel Nelson and Dallago about their company. Milne is one of four advisors on the company’s AngelList profile.

“He listened to our story and really liked it,” Nelson said. “He thought we were hustlers and were here to get the job done. Since then he’s kind of taken us in and helped us find anybody we need to be introduced to.”


Credits: Photo from clusterFlunk on Facebook. Screenshot from clusterFlunk on AngelList.

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