Universities Want Detailed Data on Alumni, GroupCharger Crawls Web to Deliver

WHAT: Universities provide GroupCharger with their database so that GroupCharger can crawl social networks, public data and third-party APIs for information about the dataset, including the top social media influencers and alumni likely to donate. GroupCharger can also tag individuals based on information in their public profiles (e.g., a person who says on his LinkedIn profile that he's a partner at a VC firm would be tagged "investor").

Universities have three ways to use the new data: matchmaking for jobs, personalized introductions and segmented targeting. Alumni association staff access a dashboard that shows them activity among alumni and recommendations for individuals. They can also send emails via GroupCharger's app or their own email system.

Coming in the 2.0 version: pushing content through social media (in addition to email) and allowing alumni to share content directly back to the university without creating a new profile.

LAUNCHERS:  Kirtus Dixon, CEO, has started four companies (two failures). James Weddle, president. Satish Kodukula, CTO.

WHY: Universities want alumni to feel more connected so they give more money. State universities have had their budgets cut and need to find money elsewhere. Students and grads want to connect with alumni in specific fields and professions. Many groups have "lost" members they'd like to find and keep in touch with for networking and fundraising purposes.

WHEN/WHERE: Sept. 7, 2011 / Austin.

BACKSTORY: Kirtus tells LAUNCH he learned about "maintaining the right balance of speed, learning and focus" from his previous startup experiences. For GroupCharger, they interviewed 250 people across different groups before building their minimum viable product. "We knew early on that universities were likely early adopters, but didn't really begin focusing on that opportunity until July," he says.

BUSINESS MODEL: Monthly subscription. "Special pricing" for the first 50 universities. Testing consumer prices for small local groups like churches, neighborhoods and nonprofits.

COMPETITION: University market: Evertrue, Unifyer, iModules, Harris Connect. Consumer groups: email newsletters, Google Groups, meetup.com; Groupspaces in the U.K.

CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Three university customers -- McComb's School of Business at the University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, and Williamson County Texas Aggies Club -- and pilots starting with several more in September. Also customers in the political, nonprofit and faith-based industries [ not yet disclosing names ].

GOAL: "To change peoples' lives by helping them leverage their lifestream: where they live, where they work and where they went to school," Kirtus says. "Social networks were just the beginning of the network effect."

WHO BACKED IT: Capital Factory (previously bootstrapped).

RAISING: $200K, $75K committed today.



1. "Technology versus Community: Ride the Wave, Not the Board" (Alumni Futures, June 27, 2011)

2. "5 Ways to Friend the Class of 2015" (MR Youth, 2011)


Kirtus Dixon
Email: kirtus at groupcharger dot com
Twitter: @kirtusdixon
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kirtusdixon

James Weddle
Email: james at groupcharger dot com
Twitter: @jamesweddle
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesweddle

Satish Kodukula
Email: satish at groupcharger dot com
Twitter: @satishk1979
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/satish-kodukula/1/45b/143

Blog: http://www.groupcharger.com/blog/
Jobs: http://www.groupcharger.com/careers/
AngelList profile: http://angel.co/groupcharger

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