Baton Rouge educators create app to save you money at local stores, support your schools

Three educators from Catholic High School have launched a new app that promises to help local businesses promote their products or services, save users money through deals and discounts, and support education by donating to local schools a portion of the proceeds generated by user fees.

The app is called sLocal—a play off of its mission to “support, serve and save” in the local community—and is the creation of Catholic High’s athletic director J.P. Kelly, technology director Jay Butcher and tech guru Bradley Katzmarzyk, a 2014 graduate. The three partners have been developing the app in their spare time and launched it in early November. So far, 150 local businesses are participating and some 1,200 potential users have downloaded the app.

“So far, the first month has been great,” Kelly says. “Businesses love it because they’re getting mobile marketing and they’re helping education.”

The sLocal app functions in many ways like other discount offering apps and websites such as Groupon. Participating businesses in one of 10 different categories—auto, restaurants, retail, health and beauty, for example—pay a monthly hosting fee of either $50 or $100, depending on the level of service they choose. They are then able to create their own mobile sites from which they can promote discounts and specials to the app’s users, who pay $2.99 per month for the service.

Where sLocal differs from other sites is in the level of control it gives the local businesses that participate in it.

“They can control all the content from their phone or iPad and can change their offers any time, depending on demand,” Butcher says. “We’ve also created it in such a way that they can turn push notifications on and off so it becomes really interesting.”

What also makes sLocal unique is that it donates half of each user’s fee to the school of that user’s choice. Virtually all of the K-12 public and private schools in the Capital Region are in the system’s database, and when users sign up to buy the app, they are able to select the school they want to receive the money.

“There are many features that are similar to a Groupon,” Butcher says. “The educational component makes us unique.”

While the school tie-in gives sLocal a higher purpose, it is also an intrinsic part of the company’s business model. School administrators will be key in sLocal’s early marketing efforts.

“The hope is that a principal sees the value in this and encourages their school community to go out and get it,” he says. “Every business who is on here and offering something is supporting education, our consumers are keeping their money in the local economy and it’s a circle.”

sLocal’s developers believe the app has unlimited potential, both locally and nationwide. The Baton Rouge market alone has more than 345,000 smartphone users over the age of 16.

“So that’s our potential market,” Kelly says.

The company is also looking to launch sLocal in several other markets around the country, where it already has associates laying the groundwork by selling the product to businesses in those cities. It has plans eventually to expand to other cities around Louisiana as well.

“But for now, our focus is on Baton Rouge,” Kelly says. “We want to make sure our businesses know how to maximize its potential so we can help them but ultimately we want to make a big impact on education.”  

—Stephanie Riegel

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