May 8, 2015
“Out with the old, in with the new.” This is the stance universities and alumni groups are starting to take when it comes to ways in which they engage with their alumni bases. Cold calling is becoming a thing of the past as colleges have finally realized they need new tools to engage their alumni. Dozens of new companies have burst onto the scene in an attempt to solve this problem, but only one knows that engagement is best achieved when you put the alumni first.
Meet Alumnify, a startup out of San Francisco, CA that creates alumni applications focused on the alums. The company feels that by providing a valuable and beautiful user experience, they’ll be able to facilitate far stronger alumni engagement and ultimately stronger giving.
The strategy is working, catching the attention of both alumni groups and universities around the country. The company recently set a record for the number of schools signed, announcing over 100 clients added within the last 11 months. Compared to others in the industry who are lucky to sign just ten schools in their first year, signing over 100 schools this fast is record breaking. What’s even more impressive is that Alumnify is currently averaging 4-5 new clients every week
To date, the company has raised over half a million dollars in capital with big name supporters including 500 Startups. While rumors have spread about Alumnify’s next round of capital, CEO AJ Agrawal is not willing to disclose any numbers at this time.
Not only has Alumnify garnered plenty of attention among those in The Valley, but they’ve attracted the eyes of the entire alumni relations industry as well. They credit the functionality of their product and focus on user experience as the main reasons they have surged to the forefront of alumni engagement platforms. Alumnify has taken a differentiated approach – and schools all over the world are noticing.
Focus on the Alumni
The core difference and a main reason why Alumnify has grown so quickly has been their focus on the product experience from the alum’s standpoint, not just the institutions’. The application includes features that allow alums to connect with other alums around them, earn rewards, RSVP for events, and plan meet-ups, all through the app. By putting alums first and building a beautiful and useful UX, Alumnify has managed to gain an edge over the competition.
Just one year ago, Alumnify was relatively unheard of – garnering only a few clients and minimal seed funding. All of that changed in April of last year. Alumnify won the University of San Diego’s V2 Pitch Competition, shocking the startup community and winning $40,000 out of a total $50,000 in prize money. Since then, the startup has seen hockey stick growth. The company continues to bring in big name schools including large clients like Florida International University and Miami University.
A Refreshing Approach
After chatting with the founders, it’s clear to see that they’ve found the right approach and why they’ve grown so quickly. CEO AJ Agrawal and Co-Founder Eghosa Aihie are only 24 years old – just half the age of most of the major CEOs in the market. That’s enabled them to bring a refreshing perspective to an industry that’s failed to effectively leverage alumni engagement for decades. The higher education industry only sees a 2X return on the $22 Billion it spends annually for donations. Compare this with non-profits that typically generate a 4X return and it’s easy to see why there is an issue.
Growth of the Team
Quick growth always accompanies questions of how a startup can scale effectively. To help meet demand, the company has grown to over ten employees and added experienced hires to help lead the business. One of the biggest hires has been COO and Board Member Tony Suber, who served as Director of Regional Development for Notre Dame. Hires like this help Alumnify deliver on its core mission to create memorable experiences with alums, thus more effectively driving donations. This new, insightful approach is a large part of their success.
Access to the best mentors and advisors is always a great indication of company’s potential for success. Alumnify’s office is currently located in the highly exclusive co-working space, The Founder’s Den, where companies have access to entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris and Phil Libin. They are also a member of the 500 Startups Accelerator Program, a top 5 accelerator program in the world that specializes in scaling companies with high growth potential.
The Alumnify headquarters can be found in downtown San Francisco, a few blocks away from Giant’s Stadium.
Image Credit: Flickr/smcgee
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