New grades app gets students' eye

Brothers find way to attract special audience

05/08/2011 12:00 AM

05/08/2011 1:16 AM

Jeremy Olson, a 20-year-old junior at UNC-Charlotte, was a key speaker at Central Piedmont's Geek Fest in November due to his successful launch of the iPhone application, "Grades."

On April 6, Jeremy teamed up with his brother, Josh Olson, to release the second edition: "Grades 2."

"We used a lot of the same grass roots strategies we used last time to get the word out, but I've made more connections since then, so we had a lot of buzz on Facebook, Twitter and tech blogs," Jeremy said.

Josh, a 22-year-old senior at UNCC, helped with the marketing and some design for the new edition. "I traditionally have not been into computers as much as Jer has, but in the past year or two I've been learning things like how to use Photoshop and design and market apps. I hope to go into the app business after college," Josh said.

Grades 2 is like the original. It helps students determine precisely what they have to score on every assignment to get the grade they want in a class. It has made an astounding debut.

As of April 19, it was the number one education app, and the number 200 app overall. It has beat out apps like New York Times, Google Voice, LinkedIn, Fox News, Apple's official Apple Store app, Paypal and other big-name applications, according to the App Annie website which tracks online applications, their sales and rankings.

"This is something that gets people excited," Jeremy said. "It's crazy that two college students got more users than some of Apple's own apps."

Unlike the old version, Grades 2 is free and contains ads that generate revenue. Users also can purchase an ad-free version for $1. In the first two weeks, Jeremy and Josh had more than 40,000 downloads.

The brothers say they will be working with it over the next few months to determine exactly how to use the ads as a revenue source.

"Everyone wants to reach the college market and we think we've got an advantage because advertisers will pay more if they know they are reaching the right people, and Grades 2 targets just the right people," Jeremy said.

Josh also runs a blog,, which gives students tips on making good grades in college and ways to use the application.

"He's grown the blog from zero to a few hundred readers per day in a matter of months," Jeremy said.

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