When sister duo Claudia and Carolina Recchi first created EdSights, they used a large guiding question.
“In a perfect world [where] we kind of had a magic wand that allowed us to collect data on whatever we want on our fingers, what would we like to know to avoid [college] students to drop out? ”Claudia said. The co-founder’s early years were spent understanding data points, whether it was helping students access the right resources or simply hearing their concerns and communicating them to decision makers. They decided to use a chatbot as a service that could both educate students effectively and collect data in a timely manner.
The chatbot received a deep injection of vulnerability amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the startup began selling its services to universities looking for better ways to retain and engage students, especially as the pandemic has locked down the campus and left students more alone than ever.
Last year, EdSights’ product was defined by its chatbot. Branded under the guise of a school mascot, the chatbot would send personalized questions and messages to students to understand their biggest stresses. It would then link them to university resources ranging from financial aid to food and security services. EdSights sold the service to universities looking for better ways to retain and engage students, especially as the pandemic has disrupted basic communication around the world.
The startup announced today that it has raised a $ 5 million Series A run by Album VC, the same company that spearheaded the early investments in Podium, Andela and Degreed. Other investors on the tour include Lakehouse, Good Friends, Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig and Deborah Quazzo of GSV Ventures. With the new liquidity, the total known capital of EdSights raised to date is $ 8 million.
New money is not without momentum. EdSights declined to share specific numbers, but said it had 6x the annual revenue growth. It also landed 70 clients, which may be colleges, institutions or universities, up from 16 last May. Co-founder Carolina Recchi, who built the business alongside her sister Claudia, said their business was “very close to being profitable” and would be if they chose to stop hiring additional people. . She estimates that EdSights will reach profitability in 14 months given these new growth targets.
A constant challenge for EdSights is whether it can trigger action based on the visibility it offers. Universities are notoriously faced with red tape, which could halt new initiatives or rapid deployment, which could affect the return on investment of EdSights. The co-founders presented a counter-argument, claiming that student body data will help universities spend the resources demanded by students smarter and lower the costs of newly irrelevant services.
“Universities don’t know how much money they’re spending, so I think we really find out when that happens,” Carolina said. “And I think that’s really why data matters… it’s the next phase of higher education optimization.”
But the startup does not intend to simply consult. Eventually, EdSights wants to start providing in-demand services such as mental health specialists, financial resources, and career preparation.
“Once you get to a certain level of scale and really understand, what do we do about the areas where the institution can’t help? ” she said. “Is there anyone else who can?” And can it be us?