AdmitSee, a two-year-old, 10-person, San Francisco-based startup, has just finished raising $1.8 million in seed funding to take on pricey college admissions consultants.
If things work out as planned, it could be taking on LinkedIn next.
AdmitSee was founded in 2013 by former University of Pennsylvania classmates Lydia Fayal and Stephanie Shyu, who’d observed — along with countless parents of U.S. schoolchildren – that the college acceptance process has seemingly grown more complicated by the year.
Their solution? To launch what they call a peer-to-peer college admissions source. It pays college students to submit their successful college applications, then charges high school students (or, really, their parents) a higher fee to access those applications and hopefully learn how to replicate that success.
Especially ambitious students can even pay a little extra to ask college students questions they might have about the whole process.
AdmitSee won’t say how many high school students have signed up for the service, but Fayal says that AdmitSee has managed to collect 50,000 application files for their platform, and that 1,000 students are currently available as mentors.
As for pricing, Fayal says students who submit their successful applications are paid $10 up front and an additional $2 every time someone views their profile. Meanwhile, interested high schoolers pay $9 per week per mentor to get questions answered, a one-time fee of $20 if they want a mentor to review their personal essay, and another $75 per month to view the application files of students at five schools of their choosing.
The many schools represented include Harvard, UC Berkeley, Cornell, Stanford, and Tufts.
AdmitSee organized its offerings the way it has because users typically try to find out as much information as they can about their “reach” schools before potentially moving on to their so-called safety schools, says Fayal.
In fact, AdmitSee is discovering more trends all the time from the information that’s accruing to its platform, Fayal insists. For example, she says that Columbia and Cornell seem to “take similar people,” whereas other schools, including Yale and Brown, similarly “see a lot of overlap.” Fayal says AdmitSee can help C students understand which “better” schools might be more forgiving of their grades. (These include Tulane, the University of Maryland, and University of Michigan, she says.) Based on the company’s learnings, it also makes a difference where a high school student applies for early admission. (According to Fayal, New York University accepts more early-admissions students than Columbia.)
Going forward, says Fayal, AdmitSee hopes to replicate its own burgeoning success with a product that helps undergraduate students get into graduate school, and a third product that will eventually help both undergrads and grad students find jobs at the companies where they want to work.
Indeed, a lead-gen business seems to be in the works.
“We’re not doing it yet,” says Fayal, “but part of our plan next year will be focused on working with law schools and business schools that are maybe lower in the rankings and want some help in filling seats and making people more aware of their existence.”
In the meantime, AdmitSee will be using its new convertible note – from Social + Capital Partnership, FOUNDER.org, and Imagine K12’s Start Fund (which includes New Schools Venture Fund, GSV Capital, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig) – to grow awareness about its brand, convince parents of its value, and start hiring some salespeople.
Says Fayal, “We just hired our very first designer this past week. That’s an exciting start.”