Check I'm Here: St. Petersburg entrepreneur raises $1M in angel funding

While he was an undergraduate at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and VP of student government, Reuben Pressman had an epiphany. Not only was there a need to increase student engagement in activities outside the classroom, but there had to be a better way to monitor and measure who was doing what, when and where.

“It always starts with a problem and then you look for a solution,” says Pressman, now the founder and CEO of Check I’m Here, an online technology interface that recently raised $1 million in angel investment.

“We’ve been growing very fast and this current round of funding will allow us to continue, as well as focus on some new innovative features to stay on top of the industry,” says Pressman.

Check I’m Here’s investors include Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning who is developing property around the Channelside area in downtown Tampa; Ronald Schlosser, former executive chairman of McGraw-Hill Education; and 500 Mobile Collective, a global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator. 

In a news release about the company’s recent funding, Schlosser says that Check I’m Here technology “may be one of the most intuitive and easy to use right out of the box.”

Providing a better experience

Check I’m Here is a high-tech digital tool for tracking all issues related to student engagement and allocations of funds for student activities.

It replaces an inefficient paper check-in system, clickers and spreadsheets with a digital system. The company’s software technology provides detailed real-time analytics reporting, including data on student demographics. It also integrates with reservation services for booking. 

“We offer a simple but powerful cloud-based solution for college and universities who need to manage organizations and events, track student involvement, assess engagement and more reach more students,” Pressman says in a statement.

Why is student engagement and the need to monitor it such a big deal?

Participation in extracurricular activities plays a big role in how invested students are in their college experience and is a factor in retention, as well as graduation rates, Pressman says.  

“Students need to feel like they are part of something.  If they don’t have that experience, they’re more likely to transfer to another school or drop out. Lack of involvement can be a deal breaker,” he says.

Measuring student engagement

Taking part in university clubs and organizations also helps students develop important soft, core competency skills like leadership, collaboration and teamwork -- skills that are vital for success in future careers.

In addition, Check I’m Here’s online engagement technology can also impact the amount of money allocated to various clubs and organizations at the start of the school year.

“When I was in student government we had full authority to determine how best to allocate activity and service fees to the various organizations,“ says Pressman. “We had well over a $15 million budget, which covered the fitness center, waterfront activities, health services, student life budget and a lot more.”

Measuring student engagement and gaining a better understanding of which clubs generate the most student participation can help determine appropriate allocation of funds, Pressman says.

Check I’m Here’s first client in 2013 was Saint Leo University near Dade City, Fl. Now, more than 80 colleges and universities in 30 states, as well as 30 countries, including Canada and Pakistan, use the company’s online engagement platform. Locally, Eckerd College is a participant. “Our customer list has grown by 25 percent every quarter,” says Pressman.

The company currently has 15 employees and recently moved into new offices at 100 7th Street South in downtown St. Petersburg.
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Read more articles by Janan Talafer.

Janan Talafer enjoys writing for a diverse group of clients, including print and online publications, nonprofit organizations and public relations agencies. One of the highlights of her writing career was flying with the 91st Air Refueling Squadron out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa FL for a feature about this elite military team. A journalism graduate of Bowling Green State University (OH), Janan’s early career was in health care marketing and public relations for hospitals in Connecticut and Tampa Bay. She is an avid gardener, loves East Coast swing dance and enjoys touring around St. Petersburg on the back of her husband’s scooter.