Featured Startup Pitch: Graduway is helping schools create engaged, social alumni networks

By Editor October 29, 2013

Daniel Cohen, GraduwayBy Daniel CohenGraduway co-founder and CEO

Elevator Pitch: Graduway is transforming the world of alumni networking by providing schools with their own world-class branded platform layered around existing social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. The result has been strong engagement, and for the first time truly empowered alumni networks.

Product Overview

Graduway is a cloud solution offering schools the Holy Grail in the world of advancement and alumni relations—the chance of having the world’s best engagement platform yet ready to go within minutes. The product has been beautifully built with particular attention on the design and UI, and with input from key stakeholders like LinkedIn, who Graduway entered into a strategic relationship with earlier this year. The product has been built by people who really understand schools and at the same time really understand social networks. This dual understanding is apparent in every feature—be it the social networking directory, the job board, or the school feed. The result is a product that users instinctively get and love. In terms of user benefit, the product is aimed at helping graduating students build their first LinkedIn profile, find exclusive jobs, find mentors and have access to an exclusive network that is willing and able to help. For more experienced alum, it’s a place to network, hear latest school news and reminisce with old classmates. The Graduway platform uniquely sits between Facebook and LinkedIn—offering its users both exclusive social and professional opportunities. The back-end of the product has also been built to allow easy syncing with the schools’ CRM system and fundraising tools. The result of having a truly engaged platform is that schools now have constant access to fresh contact information of their alumni, who are now engaged with the school on a frequent basis. Happy alumni. Happy school. Happy Graduway.

Founders’ Story

As our surnames—Dr. Marcel Cohen and Daniel Cohen—suggest, we are not just co-founders but also father and son. The company was founded four years ago as a meeting of minds combining Marcel’s academic background at Imperial College with my corporate experience at Merck and P&G. The result has been the development of a company that is able not only to work for the end-user, but fits in the eco-systems of both schools and graduate recruiters. The relationship between co-founders in this particular startup is obviously very special. A recent study found that family-run businesses outperform other companies. Graduway is hoping for a similar result.

Market Opportunity

You might think that schools today have in place all the tools they would need to maximize their advancement efforts with cutting-edge marketing and fundraising tools. The problem is that their data is often out of date and the school has played only a very limited role in the lives of alumni since they graduated. Fundraising in such an environment is always going to be problematic and sub-optimal at best. The Graduway solution starts with the end user in mind by offering a networking platform that adds real value to their lives professionally and socially. The by-product is that Graduway gets access to updated information on the school’s alumni that can be automatically synced into their core CRM system for fundraising. Critically, Graduway also makes the alumni more receptive to the schools’ appeals by improving engagement.

How Are We Different?

The market currently fits into two camps. On the one hand, social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook offer groups which are strong on connectivity and are of course free, but do not offer a trusted/branded environment with exclusive opportunities. This results in low levels of engagement. On the other hand, companies like iModules offer stand-alone branded products that are not integrated with social networks, and whose purpose is primarily school-to-alumni communication only. The Graduway platform fills a market void by providing a platform and app that is purely focused on engagement and facilitates networking between the alumni themselves. Graduway offers the best engagement platform in the market, but at the same time as a cloud solution makes it incredibly easy for the schools.

Business Model

Graduway is a SaaS company where schools subscribe for an annual fee of $6,000-to-$25,000 a year based upon the size of the institution. Graduway also has the potential in the future to further monetize these platforms, most obviously in the area of jobs.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Graduway’s marketing strategy has always been centered on its product. Graduway believes its world-class product should do all of its talking, and given that it is a cloud solution, it has been easy to allow schools to start free trials. The strategy seems to be working, with 20 schools signing up in the last few weeks alone.

Current Needs

Graduway is a late-stage Seed yet early-Series A startup looking for investors ideally who can play in both arenas.

# # #

Graduway logoWebsite: www.graduway.com

Founders: Daniel Cohen, Dr. Marcel Cohen

Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel

Year Founded: 2009

Investors: Gigi Levy, RSL Ventures, BTG Pactual

Twitter: @Graduway

Facebook: facebook.com/graduway

AngelList: angel.co/graduway

CrunchBase: crunchbase.com/company/graduway