ClearScholar Inc., a local company that produces software that makes it easier for colleges and universities to get tailored information to its students, is poised for explosive growth.
ClearScholar, which was founded in June 2016, announced a partnership Wednesday with Civitas Learning Inc., an Austin, Texas-based education-tech company with deals to supply its data-gathering and packaging platform to more than 325 colleges and universities. Those schools, Civitas officials said, have a combined enrollment of 8 million students, which is about one-third of all U.S. college students.
The idea behind Civitas’ platform is to allow colleges to give students information they need when they need it, with a degree of customization. ClearScholar’s software allows such information to be delivered via its mobile app.
As part of the deal, ClearScholar’s software will be integrated into Civitas’ platform, kind of like satellite radio in a new car. Civitas’ clients just have to pay for ClearScholar’s app and enable it for its students.
ClearScholar, which still has a strategy to work with schools directly, currently has deals to provide its mobile app to six schools—including Butler University.
“This is an inflection point for us,” said ClearScholar CEO Jason Konesco, a former CEO of Harrison College. “This deal is very significant.”
If all goes well, Konesco thinks the young company, which has six full-time employees and uses some contract engineers, could have 20 to 25 employees within a year and 40 to 60 full-time employees by 2020.
“We’re definitely poised for growth and will be adding new team members,” Konesco said. “We’re going to be disciplined when we add folks to assure we’re doing so to best serve clients.”
Civitas chose to partner with ClearScholar because of the ClearScholar product's “superior student experience and the ease with which students can access needed supports and personalize their plans,” according to Civitas co-founder and Chief Learning Officer Mark D. Milliron.
ClearScholar’s app, Civitas officials explained, has achieved daily and monthly usage metrics that are nearly quadruple the industry average for student mobile apps.
“Through our partnership with ClearScholar and work to streamline the student experience, we are supporting students as they start at the institution and get on their path to success,” Milliron said.
Currently, half of college students say they struggle to find information they need on their campus, according to Community College Research Center, an independent New York-based research center. The center surmises that trend could be why 42 percent of college dropouts do so in the first three semesters.
Civitas specializes in pulling together information from disparate data pools—many produced by the school—organizing and packaging the data and giving it back to the school so the school can make better decisions about and for its students. The data also helps those schools get messages out to students.
Konesco explained that colleges and universities have an increased interest in tracking their students’ likes, wants and habits. “Think of the airlines or Amazon. They know what and how customers consume,” Konesco said. He added that Civitas, which was founded in 2011, is on the forefront of the technology that allows colleges to do that. That type of tracking and communication, Konesco explained, helps schools maximize student success rates.
But until now, Civitas hasn’t been focused on mobile engagement, which is where ClearScholar excels.
Civitas officials said they will work with ClearScholar’s student-engagement app “to close the information gap that often exists between institutions and the students they serve.”
ClearScholar has been working with Civitas for several months to integrate its software into Civitas’ platform, Konesco said. He noted that Civitas salespeople are already touting the ClearScholar app’s capabilities to its clients and potential clients.
The agreement, Konesco said, aims to help both companies grow.
“We not only want [the ClearScholar software] to be adopted by Civitas’ current clients, we want to help accelerate Civitas’ growth,” Konesco said.
Konesco expects ClearScholar’s app to be rolled out “to a few schools in Q1 and many more in Q2.” The 2018-19 school year could be a big year for ClearScholar, he added.
ClearScholar is not yet profitable, Konesco said, but this agreement should be a significant step in that direction.