In late 2011, I designed iHusky.org, an online platform aimed at connecting Sheldon High School students outside of the classroom. Initially, iHusky.org only allowed students to ask questions and share notes with their classmates regarding homework assignments or upcoming quizzes and tests. Since then, iHusky.org has expanded to keep students updated on campus events and club news. Over the course of two months, iHusky.org attracted over 100 new members. In the 2012-2013 school year, I intend to expand the services of iHusky.org to allow students to campaigns, organize study groups, and provide students an opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas. In order to do so, our goal is to give iHusky.org a more permanent position in not only academic but after-school life at Sheldon High School. I also intend to make iHusky.org a course offered at Sheldon High School. The iHusky.org course is designed to provide project members experience in core entrepreneurship skills necessary to be successful in the work force. The objective of the course is to engage the potential of project members and enhance the high school experience. Most importantly, the course addresses a critical challenge facing education today: applying students’ academic knowledge in a practical context. The class taps into the creativity and curiosity of students in order to build a socially beneficial product.
Unpublished photos of Steve Jobs and Silicon Valley’s early days finally surface.
I’ll be honest. I’ve used Square’s services just once in my life. And I’m not much of a patron to Starbucks. But the recently announced deal between the payments startup and the coffee giant has me quite intrigued about the future of electronic transactions. From what has been reported in the media, the terms of the deal are such: Starbucks will invest $25M in Square, who will start processing transactions via its mobile app at 7,000 Starbucks locations by this fall. To boot, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will be joining Square’s board.
Although it’s quite obvious that Square wanted to partner with a company of Starbucks’ brand and stature for greater distribution, scale, and growth, there are questions as to why Starbucks would want to partner in return with Square. It’s a publicly-traded company (NASDAQ:SBUX) that already has thousands of stores with well-established points of sale and seems to be going along fine with its very own mobile payment app. In addition, there are other players in the e-payments market (Google Wallet, for one) that would love to have Starbucks’ business. So, why the need for this particular deal?
Howard Schultz is well-known as one of America’s most prolific CEOs. What many don’t know about Schultz is that he’s the founder of a VC firm with a portfolio that boasts the likes of Groupon and Pinkberry as investments. It’s hard to imagine a businessman like Schultz agreeing to a deal with Square if Starbucks weren’t enjoying a much, much reduced fee rate than the 2.75% Square normally charges per transaction. It doesn’t hurt that adopting Square’s services may help with improving customer ease and experience. It signals that Starbucks is attuned to its customer’s changing preferences regarding details as simple yet crucial as how they pay for their overpriced cups of Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha.
This deal also signals to merchants both large and small that wallet-less transactions are the way of the future. Debarring any fraud-related hiccups, it’s not difficult to imagine national fast-food chains and supermarkets starting to adopt some form of mobile payments en masse within the next two to three years. What’s more? Devices that looked like bricks less than two decades ago are now skinny-jeans friendly and can do more than the computers NASA used to put Neil Armstrong on the moon. And who knows where this could go? Imagine your license, passport and business card…all on your phone and electronically transferable. Imagine cashiers, cops and chefs knowing who you are…before knowing who you are. Sure, it’s scary and paranoia-inducing. But aren’t those the very sentiments that sometimes distinguish the future from what is and what has been?