The college application process can be a long and daunting task. Yesterday we brought you the story about a startup in New York that helps high school students prepare for college by offering a platform to find extra-curricular activities outside of the school. Today, while this story is about a college focused startup, it to is more about pre-enrolled high school students.
Cleveland based startup CollegeSkinny provides incoming students everything they need to know about the colleges they want to apply to. It also helps them keep all their prospective college applications and information organized so that they can continue to access it until the time comes to make a decision.
According to founder and CEO Bryant Hardy:
“Students browse colleges and Universities hosted on the CollegeSkinny network and learn everything from How to Apply all the way to the specific Greek Life organizations on campus and everything in between. We also provide interactive tools for the schools themselves to recruit and connect with potential students.
Our features include: How to Apply, Important Dates, Where to Live, What’s on Campus, College Process, Greek Life, Packing Checklist, Meal Plans, Things to Know, and The CollegeSkinny Connection (feature that provides a link between a student and the University).”
The entire focus of CollegeSkinny is to help transitioning high school students, pick and then transition into college. To get a better perspective on what CollegeSkinny is all about we interviewed Hardy below:
What is CollegeSkinny?
CollegeSkinny helps students and their parents search, apply, and learn about specific schools and campuses they are interested in. We take the confusion out of the process by giving users the essential information and tools needed for a “skinny” transition.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Bryant Hardy (Founder/CEO)- Attended Ohio University and studied Middle Childhood Education (Mathematics & History). He came up with the idea for CollegeSkinny in summer of 2011, and after putting months of analyzing, designing, and forecasting he decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and drop everything to pursue his idea. Hasn’t looked back since :)
Michael Herman (Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer)- Graduated from Ohio University in Spring of 2012 with degree in Engineering Technology & Management. Although presented with job opportunities in the field of his studies, he saw a chance to create something innovative with CollegeSkinny and decided to forgo those opportunities. With a creative mind and valuable personable skills, Michael adds tremendous value to leading the marketing of CollegeSkinny.
Ryan Fazulak (Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer)- He graduated from University of Cincinnati DAAP program (Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning) with a BS in Digital Design in ’07 and has been working professionally in various advertising/marketing firms since. He currently lives in Dublin, OH with his wife and two year old son. Ryan possesses valuable design skills that have resulted in the creation of CollegeSkinny’s beautiful and sleek design. He is able to create a simplistic layout, while still presenting users with valuable content and easy navigation.
In the month of July 2012, CollegeSkinny strategically aligned themselves with the web/mobile development company Inuvate. With this partnership, CollegeSkinny absorbed four additional members; Ryan Hardy, Nick Brundula, Chris McDade, and Zach Hardy.
Where are you based?
Our office is located in beautiful downtown Cleveland, OH.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
We have been exposed to the startup community for the past year and have noticed significant growth in specifically the web based startup scene. We’ve spent time at Cleveland business accelerators/incubators and have been lucky enough to network with some great people and startups.
How did you come up with the idea for CollegeSkinny?
Founder Bryant Hardy saw a service that was being poorly provided and found a way to vastly improve and monetize it. The service will always have a market for consumers and customers, which helped him decide to put his life on hold and turn a small idea into a thriving web-based business.
How did you come up with the name?
Our first focus was on perfecting our service and features. We had to first discover what we had created before we were able to put a name to our brand. We decided to play on the word “Skinny”, providing our users with the simplified need to know information and nothing else!
What problem does CollegeSkinny solve?
The transition from high school to college can be overwhelming for any student, and maybe even more so for their parents who may not have attended college or are just simply out dated with the importance the Internet plays in the application process. Either way it is a completely new world for both. The current solution and options consist of meeting with your busy high school guidance counselor, bravely searching for answers to questions you don’t even know to ask, or reaching out to the actual universities.
The ideology behind CollegeSkinny is that these users are initially confused about what to look for when it comes to entering college, so we provide a one stop location that hosts all this information and tools in an easy and simplified format.
What’s your secret sauce?
We believe our sauce is a combination of a couple ingredients. Our brand’s personality, presentation of content, and unique approach to our users help create our own “Skinny” sauce. We have a strong underlying theme in everything we create that we must provide our users with the “path of least resistance”, thanks Mark Cuban!
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
PATIENCE! We are attempting to create the best product possible for both our users and customers, which understandably takes a lot of time and development. Although we understand the nature of the process, being so close to our product every breathing second of the day, we want nothing more than to introduce it to users and promote what we believe is something truly useful.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Partnering and aligning with the right people/company. Throughout the start-up process, we have been presented with opportunities to accept capital investment in exchange for equity in CollegeSkinny. Although we desperately needed the infusion of capital, we wanted to ensure we were gaining more than just money, we wanted teammates. Thankfully we were patient in our search for a partnership and were presented with a great opportunity to align with a growing web/mobile development company!
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Throughout our experience in the past year, we have been blessed to have networked with some truly amazing people. To list out all the great connections we’ve made would take a couple pages; all of these relationships undoubtedly have helped shape not only CollegeSkinny into what it is today, but also help the Founders grow as individuals.
Some of the bigger names our members follow closely for advice and inspiration are: Mark Cuban, Mick Hagen, and Jack Dorsey.
What’s next for CollegeSkinny?
Forecasting into the future is always difficult, especially for a startup who is still growing and learning what they are. We plan to expand our network to cover all the major Universities within Ohio in the next year, and then begin scaling to Universities in the surrounding states as soon as resources permit.
Check out CollegeSkinny here at collegeskinny.com
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