Based in Jerusalem, GradTrain is a platform that connects those looking to pursue graduate school abroad with tools and mentors to help with decisions
If you want to go to graduate school in a different country, there may not be a lot of resources to help you complete your application and get your visa and travel arrangements in order. GradTrain, a new startup that recently moved to Israel, is looking to help people that want to pursue graduate degrees in foreign countries from when they apply through when they complete their degree.
By forming a community of past, present and future international students, the platform is able to provide data-based tools and one-on-one coaching to help potential students make decisions. Some of the tools include an acceptance probability calculator and a scholarship database.
Filling an information gap
GradTrain was founded in December 2012 by Jacob Bacon, Lital Helman, Sharon Rodner, Josue Sznitman and Roy Ben-Sasson. The group came from five different countries: The U.S., Israel, France, Switzerland and Norway and met when three of the founders were studying at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We met again in Israel a couple of years ago and discussed our experiences related to making decisions prior to going abroad for school,” Bacon told Geektime. “We all shared similar challenges and faced big information gaps in the process, so on that day we decided to create a technological solution for people from around the globe who want to study abroad that leverages the knowledge of those who have been through the process successfully. That is how GradTrain came to life.”
The company was originally formed in the U.S., but the developer was based in Israel, Bacon said. The Norway and Switzerland -based founders then moved to Israel, leading the company to decide to set up its headquarters in Jerusalem.
“We like to see Israel as a global hub for knowledge and its capital Jerusalem as the center from which the knowledge emerges,” Bacon said. “There is a growing startup community in Jerusalem and we feel welcome here.”
GradTrain launched in public beta at the end of 2013. So far, the company has about 20,000 followers on social media, several hundred active users from more than 50 countries and 120 coaches from different countries and fields of study, according to Bacon.
A double bottom line
While the company has been bootstrapping and raised roughly $100,000 from its founders, friends and family, GradTrain is now looking for a seed investment to scale the company globally. Last summer, it raised $13,012 in an Indiegogo campaign.
Bacon noted that GradTrain is a “for profit social impact startup,” or a “double bottom line business,” meaning success is measured not only through revenues, but also by its impact. Does GradTrain keep services affordable? To what extent does it broaden access to global education? Is it bringing talent to target countries and helping young, ambitious people fulfil their potential abroad?
“We will continue to monitor these metrics as we grow the company to make sure that we do not lose sight of this cause,” Bacon said.
Video: Hop on the GradTrain
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