I am running a few minutes late as I enter into HQ Raleigh. The building is full of thinkers, tinkerers and world changers. I swim my way through all of the clutter and make eye contact with the subjects of my piece, the co-founders of Bulletin Mobile, Nick Cioffi and James Long. 

These two young entrepreneurs have set off on a journey to change the way information is communicated between teachers and students, starting with the hundreds of classes each day at NC State, and they have tests underway to disrupt other industries that require regular conversation too.

It takes a few minutes to get settled and we make small talk until I can get my notebook out. I say, “So I want this to be more conversational and I want to start from the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur.”

A few seconds pass by and Nick, a 2014 graduate of NC State and ThinkHouse Fellow, takes the lead, “It really began in our Practical Arts Entrepreneurship class in the fall of 2012. James and I were constantly uncertain about what was due and when. There was this constant back and forth.”

James, slated for graduation next month, jumps in adding, “For us as students, there are so many mediums like email, Blackboard, Moodle, etc. that teachers expect their students to use and keep up with. We knew there had to be a simpler way that made it easier on us.” The two look at each other, in almost a reminiscent moment, noting that Bulletin Mobile spun out of a class project.

Practical Arts Entrepreneurship, also known as EMA 370, teaches students about the startup process and the social impact of art and artistry on the entrepreneurial decision-making. James and Nick grew up together and built up a rapport, so teaming up was natural. The co-founders worked on their business plan for the next couple months and, in the spring of 2013, with the help of a local development firm, Nick and James finally had something that they could present.

Bulletin Mobile is a plugin for Moodle, an open source learning management system that allows teachers to communicate important information about their courses and students to quickly check current assignments, grades, notes, etc. In other words, Bulletin Mobile is an add-on to an existing learning management system. But it’s an important one. Bulletin Mobile integrates with the Moodle database, automatically sorting students into their respective classes and allowing teachers to compose messages within Moodle that are then delivered through the private network to students’ smartphones; ensuring that Moodle becomes a one-stop shop for students and teachers. 

From an analytics perspective, teachers can see who opens up their message and in real-time. That makes the plugin different than, say, an email. Teachers have the ability to send out information to specific people and know whether or not they received it. The main goal of the plugin is to completely eliminate uncertainty in one-way communication.

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