Blog post by Lindsy Gamble

Former LearnLaunch Accelerator member Skookii makes it simple for schools to collect payment electronically for field trips, lunches, fundraising, athletics, clubs, and after-school programs, all at no cost to users. Since fully launching in May, 115 schools and youth organizations in Arizona have signed on, with hundreds more poised to follow suit, including some of the state’s largest district schools. Partnering with the Arizona Rural Schools Association this past summer also provided an avenue for increased clientele.

Initially designed as a sort of PayPal for K-12 schools and youth organizations, the company is now working on adding an embedded consumer-lending element within their platform to become something like Upstart. This will allow parents to get personal loans to pay for in-school fees and after-school programs. A former school business manager and parent himself, Skookii CEO and founder Alisher Rakhimov truly believes that involved parents should be given a platform to continue creating amazing experiences for their children, be it a field trip or an after-school soccer club. As their website says, “treasure people, not transactions…. We resent fine print, asterisks, and sales gimmicks. Free means free with us!”

While continuing to organically grow their client list and perfect their repeatable business model in Arizona before moving to other states, 2017 looks to be the year with the most momentum yet. Their seed stage is currently open, and the small team—which is remaining lean despite the company’s growth—has an eye on 500 Startups’ FinTech batch. That could be huge for brand exposure, in turn leading to more funding and market validation.

Despite the relative youth of Skookii, Rakhimov shows the humility, honesty, and constant reflection on the oft-challenging entrepreneurial journey reminiscent of someone in this business far longer. He cites the immense influence that the LL team and advisors had on making the company what it is today, especially investor and mentor Jean Hammond. “As an entrepreneur,” he says, “you need to stop thinking about how your journey is supposed to be and focus on delivering an absolutely beautiful product and fastest customer experience that wows your clients.” Despite the inevitable failures, self-doubt, and financial risks, he is even more driven today to embrace the challenges and to progress at any given moment. “When your passion becomes laser-focused on building solutions for others to enjoy, you have succeeded.” Check out the following link for more of his commentary on the obstacles of entrepreneurship.