The rising cost of school supplies begs for a solution. Here’s a math professor who’s found one.

When I first talked with Mallory Dyer, co-founder of GraphLock, Inc. she was bootstrapping and social crowdfunding while she learned the ropes of getting funded. Now, with GraphLock well on its way and making amazing progress, I circled back to highlight the importance of what she is doing.

Problem Solving Abilities Are The Most Important Thing

I’ve heard it said, several times now, that the next billionaire will be someone who touches a billion lives, not someone who makes a billion dollars. This is what I love about entrepreneurship. We, you and I, have the ability to solve problems, to touch lives, and to effectively change the world we live in through creation of an idea or a thought. This is exactly what Mallory did.

Speaking Of Solving Problems

Mallory realized a gap in the market, and introduced a solution. GraphLock is helping to bring down the cost of school supplies for students and schools across the US, and if you have children, you realize immediately the beauty in her mission. But more specifically, the GraphLock app makes studying math affordable, something you can recognize the beauty in, with or without tots of your own.

The Real Problem

There is an even bigger problem underneath the seemingly big problem of the rising cost of school supplies and it’s kind of shocking: when students can’t afford the supplies they need to finish their schooling, oftentimes, they give up or drop out. Mallory pointed out that she watched this happen repeatedly while in college at Central Arizona to become a professor of mathematics. Students in her Algebra class would realize they needed this graphing calculator that costs around $100, couldn’t afford it, and would give up.

Mallory shared the genesis of her idea, “When I moved on to teaching, I was always like, ‘How do I level the playing field? How do we make math accessible to all students?’ I soon realized that no matter what I did with my teaching that there was always this inequality in the classroom because I had these 10 students that could afford that calculator and these other 15 that couldn’t and they were getting left behind.”

Mallory’s app solves this problem, providing the graphing calculator for the low cost of $4.99 per year, it can be used on just about any phone, and GraphLock is designed specifically to be used on homework and exams. The user cannot receive texts or use the internet while the app is running (this is also customizable) It’s just the student, the calculator, and an emergency button, just in case.

Award Winning Solutions

I was not surprised at all to see that Mallory and her company recently won both the Community Hero Award in Phoenix, as well as the prestigious Milken-Penn GSE Education Competition In Philadelphia. The rising cost of school supplies ($27+billion annually and growing) has been begging for solutions, and this one is big.

Giving Back

Mallory shared with me their mission to get the app to anyone who needs it, whether they can afford the $4.99 price tag or not. “We’re a little different from other companies, where they aim to be successful first and then try to give back, we’re actually giving back first. We donated more than 500 downloads to Coolidge High School and we’re going to do a nationwide thing where we’re going to give to all students that are part of the reduced or free lunch program.”

What we can learn from Mallory and the GraphLock app is that solutions to problems, that may seem insurmountable, do exist and they can even be easy and affordable. Her passion to help others and solve a problem served as the foundation for her to build something students and schools need, which makes her a true entrepreneur.

Read the original INC article published on August 30, 2017.

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