With all the multibillion-dollar college endowments out there, it’s hard to imagine that elite schools have fundraising troubles. But even though they may know how to convince many of their highest-net-worth alumni to mail in big checks every year, TechStars-backed Evertrue believes they’re still leaving plenty of financial and networking support on the table.
On Wednesday, the Boston-based company said it had raised $5.25 million from investors who apparently agree. Evertrue’s Series A round was led by Bain Capital Ventures and included existing investors like TechStars CEO David Cohen, Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn and Trunk Club CEO Brian Spaly. Since launching in 2010, the startup has raised $6.8 million.
Built on top of LinkedIn’s API, the company provides a Software-as-a-Service product that helps colleges and prep schools create mobile networking apps (on iOS and Android ) for their alumni. It combines career data and other information from LinkedIn with traditional databases managed by schools to help alums find others with similar personal and professional interests and schools find new benefactors.
At the top of the “donor pyramid,” Evertrue founder and president Brent Grinna said, there are a few, very wealthy individuals, and schools use CRM-style alumni tracking programs as well as traditional wining and dining to keep tabs on them. But, he added, further down the pyramid, there’s a wide band of untapped alumni who may have less money individually but comprise a big opportunity collectively.
“At the very, very top end, schools and nonprofits are doing great jobs,” said Grinna. “But in the middle of the pyramid, unless there are really significant donors, no one is doing [a similar] level of research.”
While at business school, he said, he helped plan his own alma mater’s five-year reunion and realized that even top schools like Brown used low-tech alumni-tracking methods (spreadsheets) and were sitting on reams of outdated information. That was when (partly inspired by a classmate who went on to work at LinkedIn) Grinna decided to launch Evertrue to blend LinkedIn data with whatever academic and other information colleges traditionally collect.
In addition to helping schools manage their alumni networks, the app is intended to help the alumni themselves take advantage of their networks. From the app, users can search for alums across multiple variables, including location, employer and college major. It also serves as app for organizing class reunions and other alumni events.
As college tuition rises and students find it more challenging to find jobs, more companies are trying to bring LinkedIn-like social networks to college students. CollegeFeed, launched in beta this week, gives college students a social platform for connecting with employers, and AfterCollege, a more than decade-old company, last summer added a new social layer to give students a LinkedIn of their own.
So far, more than 100 colleges and prep schools have signed on as EverTrue customers. But with the new funding, Grinna said the company plans to focus on product development and built out its team to scale its user base.