November 20, 2017

Edmit Shows Students and Parents the True Cost of College

Nick Ducoff is a tech entrepreneur who brings a certain level of Edtech knowledge and experience to his newest startup Edmit.

Prior to founding the company, Ducoff was the founding Vice President of New Ventures, a newly created unit at Northeastern University whose mandate was to incubate new business ideas, diversify revenue streams, and advance a new model of higher education. While at Northeastern, Ducoff founded Level Education, a tech analytics boot camp at the same university. His entrepreneurial ventures include the big data startup Infochimps, and Boundless Learning, another company involved in education.

Nick Ducoff Edmit
Nick Ducoff, Co-Founder and CEO of Edmit

And to top it all off, Ducoff is an angel investor for several companies, including Panorama Education, and is also a member of LearnLaunch’s Across Boundaries Planning Committee.

It goes without saying that Ducoff has been in the entrepreneur and Edtech fields long enough to know education is in need of disruption in several areas. One ongoing issue that most parents with college-bound children face is the cost of tuition and how they are going to pay for it.

“I remember this one instance with a father and son at Northeastern who felt overwhelmed with the pricing of college,” Ducoff recalls. “They kept thinking to themselves ‘How are we going to pay for this?’”

For many parents, information on a school’s cost can be a make-it-or-break-it type of deal. The idea came to him then, to create a platform that would help students compare and contrast the costs of schools, as well as give them a much more intimate look at how much a school will cost.

He reached out to various customer research specialists for insight. It was during this process that Ducoff was introduced to his Co-Founder, Sabrina Manville. Manville’s previous education experience includes senior marketing roles at Southern New Hampshire University.

Sabrina Manville, Co-Founder at Edmit
Sabrina Manville, Co-Founder at Edmit

“Nick saw the situations unfold from the students’ point of view, but I had a chance to see it from the school’s,” Manville said. “A lot of schools have trouble communicating the cost of tuition with their students.”

At this point, Edmit needed a CTO to help develop the platform. This is where Christopher Jelly, who worked as a software engineer for Localytics and BevSpot, came in.

“I actually knew Nick from my days as a Northeastern student,” Jelly said with a laugh. “When Nick and Sabrina reached out to me, I found it to be a compelling market, and something I definitely wanted to move in on.”

In mid-September of this year, Edmit was officially founded. Before they came up with the name ‘Edmit’ the working-name was ‘UMatch’, but they felt it sounded, as Ducoff and Manville put it, “Too early-2000s-y.”

For the past two months, the Edtech startup has been hard at work in a small office in Downtown Crossing. The platform has been created to be similar to another well-known service.

“We’ve always described Edmit as TrueCar for colleges,” Ducoff said. “TrueCar focuses on customer value and will give insight to those who want to know the real price of a car. If you use TrueCar, you’ll most likely get a deal. We believe we can provide that, but for students.”

Christopher Jelly, CTO of Edmit
Christopher Jelly, CTO of Edmit

Ducoff’s TrueCar comparison is accurate, as Edmit is providing transparency regarding how much a school is going to be. Much like how TrueCar gives car buyers insight, so does Edmit. A user can search up a college and find out a year’s worth of tuition, and, on average, how much books are, and other school-related costs to help them make a final decision regarding their college of choice.

Edmit’s ability to cut through the noise surrounding the cost of college tuition comes from the method the company has collected data. The platform is aggregating data from a variety of sources, such as the Department of Education, CollegeBoard data, and even the colleges and universities themselves, as much of their cost information is in public view.

Another feature Edmit would like to implement applies to the students: the ability to see and compare potential salaries by major. Keeping with the company’s mission of giving students and parents information, the company is going to collect information on various salaries to find a definitive average. For any student unsure whether they can pay off the burden of student loans with their career path, this is another helpful feature.

“Students want to know how much they are going to make. Edmit can provide a great ROI for students with this feature,” Jelly said. “We want to provide information with post-grad statistics that are important.”

Last week, it was announced Edmit closed a pre-seed round of funding that totaled to $855K. Participation in the fund came from both local groups such as Bessemer Venture Partners’ 15 angel fund, Rethink Education’s seed fund with SNHU, and other angel investors.

Some of the Boston-area investors include Flybridge Capital advisor Shereen Shermak, Catalant Co-Founder and CEO Rob Biederman, Rue La La CTO Anthony Accardi, Wan Li Zhu of Fairhaven Capital, and Pearson Vice President Bill Triant. Another interesting name to come up was Peter Temes, a dean at Northeastern, keeping the connection to Ducoff’s former position.

Ask any incoming college student, or their parents, what they are afraid of, and cost of tuition is bound to come up quite a bit. Edmit looks to change that by providing incoming college freshmen, and their parents, with clear information regarding costs. While Edmit has only been in development for a short period of time, their product may prove valuable to students and is a positive disruption for the education market.

Colin Barry is a contributor to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash.

Image via Edmit.