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Why did you start this company? What excites you about it?
[YC “why did you choose this idea?”, replacing start with “we started this company”] Right now, we’re fixing the existing problems, and we find that rewarding because we frequently hear from students about the impact we’re making on their academic careers. Where we can take it from here is what’s especially exciting to us: use machine learning on the data we’ve been collecting to give personalized class recommendations, set up an inter-school textbook trade cutting out middlemen resellers to curb the rising costs, and so much more.
How did you meet your co-founders?
We met at a physics and math summer camp in North Carolina in 2010.
How long have you worked together?
Founders together 2-5 years.
How many developers/engineers are there on the team?
Can all founders attend the entirety of the program in person?
If accepted, will you work full time on this startup with no other external obligations?
Describe the problem you are solving
Almost every college provides slow, unintuitive, and ugly online systems for course registration that haven’t been improved or altered in decades. These systems are a huge source of stress and frustration for students. We abate this pain by making it easy to plan a course schedule.
We also run a popular sister service which notifies students when a class they want to get into has an available seat. Across many universities, getting into the classes one wants to take is a major challenge. Students register for courses in stages, and those in the later stages often aren’t able to register for courses that they need to graduate.
How are your customers solving that problem today?
To build their schedule: they use paper and pencil or Excel. To try to get into a class that has no available seats: they manually refresh a webpage over the course of months, waiting to see if a student has dropped that class.
Who are your competitors and how are you different? Please include URLs
[Take top part of Upstart]
[Could add “What do you understand that your competitors don’t” from YC here too]
How many customers/users do you currently have?
How do you plan to acquire customers?
[Answered in YC]
What progress have you made in the last six months?
October 2015 - expanded from 1 school (UNC) to 4 additional schools
November 2015 - marketed products to 4 additional schools
December 2015 - built and launched real-time schedule sharing feature
February 2016 - expanded from 5 schools to 101 schools
What steps have you taken to validate the market?
Our first sign of validation was the fast, organic growth our products had at UNC. We validated the lager market by conducting surveys at 20+ schools of varying enrollment and type (private vs public), as well as verifying the existence of similar student-made sites at other universities. To further test these findings, we expanded to 4 additional schools in November 2015. The initial adoption at 3 of the 4 schools exceeded our initial UNC adoption (percent increases over UNC were 60%, 90%, and 160%). We used what we learned from this test to expand to an additional 96 schools in February.
What is your revenue model or expected revenue model?
[Take the YC answer and possibly remove estimates]
What is your monthly growth rate?
Currently, 10% monthly growth rate on average. Our growth varies greatly by time of year due to the seasonality of our products.
If you applied with this startup before, what progress have you made since then?
This is our first time applying.
Provide a 1 minute video demo of your product. Please *only* post a video demo of your product or prototype. Videos longer than 1 minute will not be viewed.
Why do you want to attend this program?
Your milestone based funding, the fact that you have so many coaches available, and we thought Bryan was engaged and asked good questions when we spoke briefly via email. Also, have to say, your facility seems really cool.
By working with mentors and fellow founders, we hope to refine our process for marketing and launching at a school to get our initial student adoption to be >10% after the first registration period. We also hope to test out our revenue model ideas and determine which one is likely to be the most fruitful.