By Stephanie Shyu L’14, Team Leader of AdmitSee
Team Member: Lydia Fayal L’14
AdmitSee is a social media platform for current college and grad students to share their application details and advice with prospective students. By providing low-cost access to application tips and examples, AdmitSee aims to level the higher education playing field.
What’s new and exciting about your business?
There’s a shortage of college counselors in the United States at a time when college acceptance rates are in the single digits (the ratio is 1 counselor to 471 students in public schools). Social media is an underutilized platform in the EdTech world—so we built AdmitSee, a social media and e-commerce hybrid that provides information you would normally only be able to obtain through a pricey independent educational consultant. We’re building a community of students who are paying it forward (and also getting paid) by guiding prospective students through a mentally and financially draining process.
How did you come up with this idea?
Both co-founders have extensive experience in college admissions advising and test prep. Lydia came up with AdmitSee as a way to address her clients’ most common request: “Do you know anyone who got into ___, and how do I compare?” The idea of crowdsourcing college application examples really resonated with me (Stephanie) because of the lack of information out there when I applied to grad school. I also saw AdmitSee being an invaluable resource for a growing international audience. I’m very familiar with the Chinese market–I founded an educational nonprofit in China when I was a teenager, and I attended the University of Hong Kong for my LLM. I see how a website like AdmitSee.com can really address the pain points of Chinese applicants.
What does it mean to you to be one of the “Great Eight” finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?
When you’re working on a startup, it’s easy to get mired in operational minutiae and question whether you have a feasible business plan. To have our hard work affirmed is really exciting. We’re honored to be called one of the “Great Eight,” and to represent women entrepreneurs as the only female-led team in the finals. We’re going to keep moving forward with AdmitSee regardless of how we do in the WBPC… but, of course, it’d be awesome to win!
If you win the Perlman Grand Prize ($30,000 prize, $10,000 in legal services, $5,000 in accounting/strategy services), what will you do with these resources?
The Perlman Grand Prize will be used for web development and user acquisition. We have a number of new features in the pipeline, including a mentorship subscription, messaging platform, and resources page where we’ll feature our partners. We also need funding to increase to reach the 6 million students applying to college every year, plus their parents. We’ve already spent $5,000 on search engine optimization and ad campaigns to test out various options. Now that we understand the cost of various client acquisition options, we’d like to spend $20,000 on search engine marketing, College Confidential forum sponsorships, and geo-targeted Facebook ads.
Stephanie was a cast member on Sesame Street as a kid. You might say the seed of her involvement with educational media sprouted when she was just 5 years old.
Lydia got lost in Italy when she was eight—Canadian tourists brought her to the local police and offered to adopt her if her parents didn’t show up.