By Daniel Cohen, Graduway 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.
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.
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 The problem is that their data is often out of date and the school has played only a very limited role in the lives of alumni since they graduated.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.
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.
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.
Graduway is a late-stage Seed yet early-Series A startup looking for investors ideally who can play in both arenas.
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Founders: Daniel Cohen, Dr. Marcel Cohen
Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel
Year Founded: 2009
Investors: Gigi Levy, RSL Ventures, BTG Pactual