A Q&A with Collegefeed co-founder and CEO Sanjeev Agrawal. The Mountain View-based startup, which is a career and employment platform for college students, completed a $1.8 million Seed funding round in late August. Investors include Accel Partners, S-Cubed Capital and Pramati Technologies. It was founded late last year by Agrawal and Aman Khanna.
SUB: Please describe Collegefeed and your primary innovation.
Agrawal: Collegefeed is like a personal career assistant that helps students and new grads land their dream jobs by using its free online platform. Employers use Collegefeed to brand themselves more effectively to students and find the perfect candidate for entry-level positions.
For a college student or new grad, getting that first job is as painful today as it was 20 years ago, even despite all the changes in technology that should make it simpler like social media, real-time technologies, crowd-sourcing, etc. Collegefeed brings together all the resources students need—whether that is online data or real-life networking—into one free platform. And since it’s a social media site, it’s delivered in a user-friendly way that the millennial generation is not only familiar with, but actually has come to expect.
With Collegefeed, new grads create short profiles to quickly showcase their skills and qualifications in a way that makes them stand out to employers. They can brand themselves. They can then discover new companies, jobs and internships, network with leading employers and alums, share interview secrets, and win financial awards from sponsoring companies. Users get a custom news feed that displays updates on preferred employers—making it effortless to stay up-to-date. They can also discover new companies they might like with the new cCORE, a Netflix-like recommendation tool.
Companies use Collegefeed to find the right candidates without spending the time and resources needed to canvass dozens of campuses. With Collegefeed, companies get a branded presence to help increase mindshare with students, to reach more campuses and showcase alumni, and to select specific students they want to interview or hire. Students have already made connections, secured interviews, jobs, internships, and financial awards with companies like YouTube, eBay, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, Saavn, Adroll and many more.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Agrawal: Any college student—undergrad or grad—and new graduates graduated within the past five years nationwide. We can help them prepare for a career and match them with companies big and small in all types of industries, from technology to finance to healthcare.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Collegefeed from the competition?
Agrawal: This is a very fragmented market. There are many companies who might focus on one individual feature that Collegefeed offers, such as LinkedIn, Monster, Internships.com, Experience.com. However, no one is focused on creating an all-inclusive service that solely addresses the needs and challenges of helping new grads start their careers. We have found no one that is a true direct competitor.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Agrawal: Collegefeed was founded in November, 2012. We launched a limited beta version in March, 2013, with three schools: Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. We used that period to prove the concept with a dozen or so employers in Silicon Valley. Then in May, we launched nationwide and expanded our employer network. Today we have thousands of students and hundreds of employers, including big companies like YouTube, Google, eBay, and Cisco that have been with us since day one.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Collegefeed? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Agrawal: Collegefeed was born out of a personal pain point. My co-founder Aman just graduated from Stanford GSB and was facing the same challenges as when he graduated from Carnegie Mellon back in 2002. I graduated from MIT 20 years ago and we realized that nothing has changed since then! We started by talking to a few hundred students across campuses and realized the crying need for a college student and young grad oriented career assistant.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Agrawal: The metaphor for information delivery today is a ‘feed’—be it Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere students spend time. They expect personalized curated information, tools, conversations, etc.—and for that content to be delivered to them. It is much more of a ‘push’ than a ‘search/pull’ world we live in these days. At the same time, I guess you could say that Collegefeed is also a play on words because by helping students kickstart their careers, we are helping them provide for themselves.
Correspondingly for employers, their ‘Collegefeed’ consists of a feed of students they should be connecting with and reaching out to as a means to nurture, hire, and develop. So, the term ‘Collegefeed’ for them implies a curated set of students based on the roles and profiles they are looking to connect with and hire.
SUB: You recently closed a $1.8 million Seed funding round. Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Agrawal: From my experience, there is never a particularly good or bad time to raise money. The most important thing is how it helps you grow. All of us, including our investors and advisors, see a huge opportunity ahead of us. We took the money to execute and bank on it, fast.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Agrawal: Grow the team, build out the product, and scale the service and our network.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Agrawal: We will raise capital as [and] when it’s needed.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Agrawal: As with any company, the most important challenge is building the team—hiring the right people and establishing a culture. And that’s exponentially more important during early stages. We’ve been lucky to have some amazing people join us. We get things done, period.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Agrawal: Our platform is free for students. Employers pay a subscription fee to access the platform for hiring, create branding within schools and other custom services. We have several big paying customers and several others in beta who are testing the platform.
SUB: What are your goals for Collegefeed over the next year or so?
Agrawal: Simple—Collegefeed will get bigger and better every single week. We will be improving the platform 10 times, providing more personalized assistance to students, scaling the network nationwide to students and employers, and bringing schools on across the U.S. and globally.
Collegefeed – www.collegefeed.com