Wednesday Apr 9, 2014 by Josh Boyle - Contributor, VentureFizz
Work 9-5… then get home to start your other full-time job. Your passion. Your startup… That’s how it began for Nick Zeckets, CEO and David Palmer, CTO of QuadWrangle, a creator of toolkits to help schools market to alumni.
The two were introduced a couple of years ago by a mutual connection and met for coffee on Hanover Street in the North End. This was not Nick’s first attempt at finding a Cofounder & CTO, but his gut told that this could be the one. Not long after Nick got back to the office / kitchen table, he had an email from David letting him know he already started building. They were off and running.
QuadWrangle remained a side project for both of them for over a year. David finally jumped all-in with Nick about six months ago after admitting he could no longer see himself “NOT doing this full-time.” This commitment undoubtedly helped the two-man team get accepted into LearnLaunch this past February. A major win for Nick and David, as LearnLaunch has been invaluable to them to this point and both spoke to the diversity of the amazing founders and the community provided as the biggest assets thus far. Nick was also clear about Boston being the right place to launch.
QuadWrangle certainly isn’t the only group out there trying to tap into this massive market. Boston based EverTrue, which raised over $5M in funding from Bain Capital Ventures last year is strong local competition. They also count Ellucian and iModules as other players in this space. Nick, however, who is the man pounding the pavement everyday driving sales, says clients and prospects tell him their product is “100 times more robust” than anything else they’ve seen. Music to his ears and the type of feedback needed to wrangle in new investors.
What makes it so robust? How does it work? It’s fairly simple and something I would use should Nick land my alma mater, Assumption College. QuadWrangle is white-labeled by colleges and universities, so alumni are downloading an app that has been branded by their respective school. The institutions enjoy a simple back-end interface to share content, build out personalized fundraising campaigns and engage their alumni. QuadWrangle’s API automatically pulls in content already created by each school. Check out any college’s website, content is everywhere - tab after tab after tab. QuadWrangle makes this content easily accessible.
Turning to the user experience, former students will appreciate relevant content and be able to give back to fundraising campaigns that are meaningful to them. Take Nick for example; in his user profile, he would add that he was a member of the University of Arizona Swim Team. QuadWrangle would direct content around the swim team and athletics to Nick’s feed. A call-to-action can then be placed at the end of select articles prompting Nick to donate towards a new swim facility. Meaningful, personal and effective.
David, using the platform of early adopter Marymount University, had “entrepreneur” indexed in his profile. When Under Armour Founder & CEO was tapped to give the schools Commencement Address, David received the article atop his feed. Information he may otherwise not have received.
Another feature, ‘Class Ring,’ was developed with the donors in mind. Research conveys what alumni want in return is career help from their schools and the platforms in place now just are not effective enough. Class Ring allows a user to reach out for assistance to network with someone at a specific company or within a certain field, but it removes the pressure for those with the contacts as the user cannot identify them directly. It also streamlines the process and offers the automatic mutual interest of a shared alma mater.
Zeckets has his eyes on growing his team once they close on funding. He knows this industry is ripe for disruption with most schools only attaining donations from 4-7% of their alumni despite the affinity towards the school. The issue, Nick says is the “funnel is narrowing because alumni aren’t donating early.” Ideally, the schools maintain relationships with donors right after graduation, but instead they’re now tracking down alumni who may already be committed to other causes. As Zeckets put it, “ donors aren’t engaged early on because the messaging is poor. My $500 donation doesn’t put a dent in the billion-dollar campaign.” QuadWrangle will continue solving this problem by “redesigning the way alumni come to find personalized ways to give.”
With continued support from LearnLaunch, we’ll certainly hear more from Nick Zeckets, David Palmer and likely some new team members in the near future. While Nick wouldn’t divulge much detail on their funding plans, he did say they’re close to a modest raise - presumably enough to keep them away from the kitchen table and coffee shop office scene.
University Image from Shutterstock.