Students have turned away from eMail and toward social media.

A New Jersey entrepreneur and his college professor business partner saw a growing campus communications gap between professors and students as an opportunity and jumped on it.

They created a Wayne, N.J.-based company, ConnectYard, that offers colleges and university professors the ability to send messages that will reach students where they are most likely to read them, and allows students to get an eMail message in text form, as a tweet, or as a private Facebook message.

ConnectYard grew out of an observation that Donald Doane and Howard University Professor Grant Warner made in 2007—that while professors love to use eMail, students increasingly were ignoring their eMail inboxes in favor of Twitter feeds, texts, and Facebook updates.

The two have recruited 50 colleges for the service thus far, including the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, which this month signed a contract with ConnectYard.

Colleges pay an annual fee to subscribe to the service. Fees start at about $5,000 for 500 students, or about $10 a student, with large institutions getting volume discounts. The company has received start-up financing from the Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network.

They’ve also begun to get inquiries from high schools and businesses that say they need a similar system to cut through the tangle of different technologies and reach students or salespeople.

“The whole goal really is to lower the barrier to communication, so technology does not get in the way,” said Doane. The entrepreneur has been involved in a number of technology start-ups.

He also founded OpenDemandSystems Inc., which creates testing programs for universities to make sure their registration and other online systems can withstand peak demand times.


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