The allure of top-tier Western universities isn’t lessening anytime soon for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese high school graduates emerging out of the country’s best schools.
That’s why a host of different startups helping mainland high school students with admissions like InitialView have cropped up in the last year or two.
Chasefuture, a one-year-old startup from serial entrepreneur Greg Nance and Han Shao, is looking to be the go-to place for students across mainland China to study abroad in the U.S. or Europe. They are a platform that connects alums and admissions officers from top-tier Western universities to serve as mentors for students across China.
“We basically bootstrapped our way to a top position in the study abroad consultation market,” said Nance, who moved to Shanghai a year ago after finishing up at Cambridge University’s business school.
Chasefuture, which has 450 paid clients, is aiming to 10X that year to more than 4,000. They connect applying high school students to real admissions experts and mentors who are alums of their desired schools.
Two-thirds of the company’s clients are in China, while the rest are mainly international students in the U.S. aiming for masters or Ph.D’s.
So far, they’re sending 17 students to USC, 16 to Columbia University, 16 to Imperial College in the U.K., 11 to the London School of Economics, three to Cambridge’s business school for a master of finance.
They have basic products that help with admissions essays and choosing schools, then higher-tier packages that can cost several thousand dollars depending on how much hands-on help a client wants.
But they’re also particularly picky about who gets to join the program, with a 10 percent acceptance rate. (One could argue, of course, that they’re cherry-picking the candidates with the best chances anyway.)
Nance says the company’s addressable market in China is maybe a quarter million students, who are looking to study abroad. To attract mentors, they look for alums or existing admissions experts who they pay about $40 an hour as a base. Nance says this is more than double what other competing platforms pay. If they are able to refer other quality mentors, they get a bonus as well.