Despite the impact of its name, edtech platform niche It took almost a decade and a half to find its place in the world of the college search process.
The company started out as a college prowler and sold college information books that looked like a mix of CliffsNotes and a Zagat guide. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies and had millions in revenue, but then had to face the 2008 economic crisis and develop a new market launch strategy.
Today and a few key points later, Niche is working with universities and schools to provide information to potential students. According to founder Luke Skurman, the focus is the same as in 2002, as attempts are made to make the college search process clearer and more student-oriented.
Think of Niche as a focused platform where students can review their college options without having to keep track of multiple browser tabs and messy spreadsheets. Users can compare metrics such as historical acceptance rate, cost and post-graduate earnings for each school, as well as topics such as major and life on campus. Niche uses the data to grade each school and lists ratings and similar schools. Beyond a college-by-college look, Niche has rankings on topics like best dorms and various universities.
Skurman noted that historically April is a month when students decide where to go to college and want to pay a visit before making a deposit.
“It’s not possible in the world we live in,” he said. “Many universities are trying to find new providers and new solutions that will help them to market them in autumn 2021.”
Beyond the effects of coronavirus, the founder stated that universities should view digital tours as a way to “be fair and inclusive because we recognize that many families do not have the resources to visit all of these locations across the country can.”
Despite rocky days in the past, Niche has grown from zero to 1,400 customers in the past three years. In 2019, Niche increased the ARR by more than 100% and the customer base by more than 60% compared to the previous year. The niche was positive in cash flow for most of the year.
The digitization of the approval experience brought about a similar growth CampusReel, a startup that virtualizes tours for universities through student-created videos.
“Traditional visiting days are essentially no longer options,” said Nick Freud, founder of CampusReel. “So universities are trying to find a solution, even if they cannot completely replace how you capture the look and feel of a campus in a virtual environment.” Freud said he sees colleges starting to add video and student-made content to their marketing materials. He claims that CampusReel has tools that a college can use to publish a profile in less than 15 minutes.
Optimal, another company for university rankings and assessments, also offers students information about schools. The platform has less data focus than niche and focuses more on reviews and Lists. Also optimally connects students with Coding schools and online boot camps.
This widespread growth amid consumer-oriented college-seeker platforms, coupled with a potential market of 40,000 schools, has prompted Niche to launch a $ 35 million Series C, announced today. The round was led by Radian Capital, with the additional participation of Salesforce Ventures. Existing investors Allen & Company LLC and Tim Armstrong also participated.
The niche’s new capital comes from the way schools change their businesses day by day. With new cash in the bank, we will see how a company that has emerged from adjustment prices in the coming months.