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Pocket Points launches to more than 100 campuses

Cheyanne Burens

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Rob Anderson and Mitch Gardner, founders of Pocket Points, develop new ideas and hold meetings in their headquarters located in downtown Chico. Photo credit: Kiana Alvarez

After a year of continuous growth, the Chico-based application, Pocket Points, has expanded beyond national borders to universities in Vancouver and British Columbia.

Along with reaching other countries, it also hit 100 major campuses within 65 U.S. cities and recently made its debut in the Android application market.

Pocket Points co-founders and former Chico State students, Mitch Gardner and Rob Richardson, consider the biggest difficulty of their success to be the transition from college student to full-time entrepreneur.

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Kelsey Graham, turning on her Pocket Points app before class starts Monday night. Photo credit: Kiana Alvarez

“When you’re a student, you can pass with a C grade and move on to the next course,” Gardner said. “But when starting a new company, you have to get an A+ or else your business is going to fail.”

The overall ride for Pocket Points is more exciting than stressful, he said.

“Rob and I totally believe in the product that we built, and when you believe in something it’s not as much work,” Gardner said.

The application has received positive reviews from customers as well as business owners who provide the rewards.

Amber Kierig, owner of For Elyse, was one of the first business owners in Chico to hop on the Pocket Points bandwagon and plans to continue the partnership to keep her customers happy.

“Everyone who comes in and finds out we’re on [Pocket Points] are very excited about it,” Kierig said.

She also hopes the online sales will be affected by the application’s recent expansion.

“I’m excited that they’re now working with a lot of different colleges nationwide so now [students] are going to have the opportunity to shop with us online,” Kierig said.

Although the concept of the application has been very successful, it has also been criticized by some stating that students shouldn’t be rewarded for staying off their phones during class, because it’s something they should do regardless.

“It’s definitely a problem in the classroom, and our goal is to come up with the best solution,” Gardner said. “We’re keeping people more engaged in real life rather than their cell phones for a good amount of time,” he said.

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Ian Maclachlan, junior business marketing major (left) and Mitch Gardner, co-founder of the Pocket Points (right), at their booth on campus. Photo credit: Kiana Alvarez

Last September was when Richardson and Gardner first noticed college students have horrible attention spans, so they created an application rewarding those who could refrain from their devices during class.

Pocket Points quickly became the buzz on campus, but the co-founders never imagined their company would soon be nationally-recognized and outgrowing its single campus location just a few short months later, Gardner said.

By January 2015, the team had gained the interest of investor Chris Freedland, CEO of Build.com, who helped launch the app on five more campuses throughout the country, including Penn State.

“When we first launched [at Penn State], we started to see the numbers go up and then the second week in, it just took off and it was crazy,” Gardner said.

The co-founders have an office in downtown Chico where they currently have 10 employees on staff, all students or alumni of Chico State, who help overlook sales of their 100 employees across the country.

“From top to bottom, we’ve been really lucky to have such an amazing team working on Pocket Points. It has made Rob and I’s jobs a lot easier,” Gardner said. “Right now, my goal is to enable every college student in the country to have access to Pocket Points.”

Cheyanne Burens can be reached at [email protected] or @cheybrizzle on Twitter.

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Pocket Points launches to more than 100 campuses