Investors, Students Gather For Final Round Of BCVC

Investors from venture capital firms like Highland Capital and .406 Ventures are about to change the way high school students will apply to college. Disruption is the name of the game, and Nxt4 is looking to flip the college application process on its head.

“The world has a lot of problems to be solved,” said Monica Chandra, co-founder and president of TurnRight Advice Solutions, Inc. and BC ’87. Nxt4 is looking to solve the issue that faces too many college applicants, advisors, and admissions officers-an abundance of depersonalized and decentralized data.
For applicants, Nxt4 will serve as a running resume that will aggregate experiences ranging from freshman year all the way through graduation. In its 15-minute pitch, features like an integrated calendar, application restrictions, and a live data feed were all presented to the panel of judges and the audience.

“Students are more adept at building an online presence than ever before,” said Christian Nicholson, CSOM ’15, about future college applicants. “We want students to be able to put together a comprehensive profile of their accomplishments, experiences, and skills. If you’re a concert cellist, you should be able to put a video in your application.”

Applicants aren’t the only ones who will benefit from Nxt4-college counselors will as well. According to Nxt4’s presentation, there are, on average, 471 students for every college counselor in the U.S. By creating a sort of enterprise management system for counselors, Nxt4 is seeking to streamline the massive amounts of data that counselors have to go to.

Admissions officers, too, are proposed beneficiaries of Nxt4. “It currently costs BC, on average, $2,500 to recruit each freshman student,” Nicholson said. “That’s around $5 million per incoming freshman class. Our goal is to cut that down.”

Nxt4 wasn’t the only business plan that is seeking to make a major impact. In a BCVC main event first, Molly Miller and YouSit tied for second place, each receiving half of the $12,500 prize money.
YouSit, a real-time digital market place, aims to change the way people “get rid of their stuff.” “It doesn’t matter if it’s a book, a chair, or a piece of pizza, YouSit will help you sell it,” said Luke George, CSOM ’17. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Molly Miller, unlike the other two winners, isn’t an internet-based company, but an eco-friendly women’s apparel company promoting positive body image among its shoppers. Already having raised $4,050 on indiegogo, Molly Miller already has its “prep pullover” available as a gift for a donation to the company. In addition to producing all their clothes in the U.S., the founders have promised to donate a portion of their earnings to organizations that promote a positive body image.

“Everyone who participated today was very impressive,” said Greg Strakosch, chairman and CEO of TechTarget and BC ’84. “This used to be a business plan competition. Today, these are real companies being started.”

“Most people don’t think of BC as a place for entrepreneurship, but they’re wrong,” said Paul Hillen, CSOM ’15, who’s on the BCVC Executive Leadership Team.

BC startups have been proving Hillen’s point for a few years now. In August of 2008, BC alumni Bill Clerico and Rich Aberman, both BC ’07, launched WePay, an API specifically for platform businesses like e-commerce and crowdfunding sites. To date, they have raised roughly $35 million dollars and process over half a billion dollars a year in payments.

WePay is not the only success story. LocalOn, phyre, Jebbit, Wymsee and NBD Nano have all received funding from venture capitalists and angel investors. Over the past six years or so, BC has started to gain momentum in the start-up game.

In her concluding remarks, Bridget Akinc, a guest lecturer at BC, pointed out what she sees as a fundamental attribute of entrepreneurialism. “This growing culture represents a mind-blowing shift from students going to college to be something, to students going to college to solve something,” she said.