Keep in mind poring over evaluations on Charge My Professors to seek out out which prof is handsome and who offers straightforward As? The professor and sophistication rankings website is among the few net 1.0 websites which are nonetheless properly and alive immediately. When the portal was acquired by information streaming service Chedder in 2018, it boasted a month-to-month person base of 6 million.
Its long-lasting relevance impressed Jae Lee, a South Korean serial entrepreneur educated within the U.S. and dwelling in Singapore, however the website is nowhere close to perfection. Identities aren’t verified, as an example, so there’s no strategy to vet the validity of evaluations. In spite of everything, college students see it extra as an “entertaining” website quite than one thing critical that they base their course selections on, Lee suggests in an interview.
Nonetheless, the recognition of ratemyprofessors.com alerts college students’ want for a spot the place they might help one another out with their faculty expertise. Lee and his co-founder Danny Woo thus got down to construct Kempus, an nameless on-line group for U.S. faculty college students.
Particularly, Kempus goals to create a reservoir of information to assist college students attain their final objective, in Lee’s phrases, “the upstream of getting a university diploma.” That data, or what the founder calls “a singular dataset inside increased schooling,” can vary from professor rankings to suggestions for getting second-hand textbooks, housing evaluations and get counseling on campus.
“We’re democratizing the extent of entry to info, which begins with course evaluations,” says Lee.
Integrated in August 2022, Kempus just lately raised $3 million in a seed spherical from Bithumb Korea, a serious cryptocurrency change in South Korea, although the founder says the corporate has no plans to affiliate itself with cryptocurrencies.
The explanation for taking cash from Bithumb, in response to Lee, is that Kempus is basically an information enterprise, so “we selected to pitch our concept to a seed investor who had prior investments related to a data-driven enterprise, together with however not restricted to blockchain, beneath their portfolio.”
A flurry of reviews has proven that adolescents are particularly prone to social media harm. Whereas bold startups like Fizz are touting “protected and personal” social networks for faculty college students, sparking investor curiosity within the “subsequent Fb,” Kempus positions itself extra as a “group” that harnesses the experiences and data of scholars.
Customers are nameless, however their identities are verified by means of their faculty emails and they’re solely in a position to be part of their very own faculty communities. To foster a protected surroundings, Kempus created a self-governing mechanism by means of which college students can flag dangerous actors. “We’re not these mega social media the place we are able to rent 1000’s of individuals within the Philippines to reasonable content material, so the primary layer [of filtering] is the group,” says Lee.
The second layer is Kempus itself, which rewards college students with factors for his or her content material contribution. In doing so, the corporate goals to change into the facilitator quite than the moderator or censor.
To draw early customers, Kempus is reaching out to pupil associations and school members throughout universities. It launched its MVP (minimal viable product) solely in late January, so it’s nonetheless too early to say whether or not it has discovered its product-market match. Whereas course evaluations sound like a distinct segment, Lee reckons a slender focus is strictly the startup’s strategic benefit.
“There have been a number of jabs taken at fixing the issue of upper schooling as a complete… However I feel there are a number of elements, a number of classes which are so deeply rooted in society and the human race that may be a very troublesome drawback to unravel as a result of it could possibly be associated to politics,” he argues. “We’re not right here to unravel increased schooling as an issue as a complete. We’re attempting to deal with the underside up.”
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