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April 18, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Austin-East students create app in partnership with Smallball Media

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following guest article was submitted by Brandon Bruce, a well-known Knoxville Entrepreneur who was the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Cirrus Insight.)

When you think of Austin-East Magnet High School, you may think of their flamboyant cheerleaders, successful football team, extravagant band, and amazing dance company. They can now add “software entrepreneurs” to their repertoire.

Students in the senior Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) entrepreneurship class participated in the Junior Achievement Company Program to design, build, and launch a mobile sticker pack app featuring the school’s roadrunner mascot. The “My Roadrunner” app is available today for iPhone on the iTunes App Store and for Android on the Google Play Store.

Students, alumni, and supporters can now show their school spirit by putting roadrunner stickers into text messages and social messaging apps. The app includes 20 student-designed stickers ranging from a roadrunner playing basketball to a roadrunner playing drums in the band.

The students created the app in partnership with Smallball Media which specializes in creating branded mobile sticker packs. The app is sponsored by local companies Archers BBQ, Hard Knox Pizza, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, Keller Williams Signature Real Estate, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The IT Company.

“This was a wonderful experience to be able to collaborate and learn from Smallball Media who helped us jump start and launch the app,” said student DyJhauna Maxwell.

“The app is a great way to express Austin-East pride through social media and to celebrate the many sponsors that made this possible,” said student Trinity Mattress.

“Launching the app was exciting! It’s a way for everybody to see the hard work put in by Austin-East students and Smallball Media. Students and supporters are now able to send and receive fun stickers and that’s pretty cool,” said student Chazmin Taylor.

“This app helps us stand out because no other Knox County School has made their own mobile app with custom stickers,” said student Olivia Morris.

“The JA Company Program gives students the opportunity to start and run a company for a semester. It’s where students often discover that hard work and innovation can lead to success,” said Callie Archer, President of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee. “Students at Austin-East worked with Junior Achievement volunteer and board member, Brandon Bruce, to explore what a tech startup would feel like. These types of experiences help them think outside of the box and spark their entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Smallball has created an amazing opportunity for our students to get firsthand experience to experiment, create, revise, and finalize a company of their own. We are honored to partner with them and be the first high school in the JA Company Program to create a customized sticker pack unique to Austin-East Magnet High School,” said Brittany Newcomb, the teacher of the entrepreneurship class.

“We’re excited to be supporting entrepreneurship at Austin-East and giving the students the opportunity to get experience with a startup and learn more about software development,“ said Chris Hill, Chief Operations Officer at Smallball Media.

“I have been very impressed by the work the students have done to get this app live,” said Paul Adams, a teacher of the entrepreneurship class.

“We’re honored to be a part of this business with A-E students,” said Alexa Sponcia from Hard Knox Pizza. “I have always loved the kids there. They are so incredibly gifted and talented. Love the idea and excited to see what happens going forward with the business.”

“It’s incredible to see what the students have done with this project. They are learning cutting-edge technology and business skills that will open up career opportunities here in our community and wherever opportunity takes them,” said Josh Belcher with Keller Williams Signature Real Estate. “As a real estate agent with KW Signature, it’s an honor to help support their education and success.”

“KEC is thrilled to have partnered with the students at Austin-East to create such an amazing set of stickers. The kids did truly exceptional work, and we can’t wait to see Roadrunners everywhere you look!” said Jim Biggs at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

“The students at Austin-East are taking coding to the next level by launching their sticker pack app. A year ago we set the Guinness World Record in Knoxville for the largest computer programming lesson. And this spring we had dozens of student teams competing in CodeStock Academy at the Convention Center. What’s next? The sky’s the limit!” said Caleb Fristoe of CodeTN.

The students will be celebrating the launch and success of the mobile app with a barbecue lunch catered by Archers BBQ which has plans to open a new location in East Knoxville.

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