Enrollment in traditional programs is down, the cost of education continues to rise and college alternatives are threatening the very existence of post-secondary education as we know it. 86% of students cited career advancement as the primary factor in their decision to pursue higher education and, while investment in career resources and programming has increased, schools continue to fail their students by not being able to provide the career services experience they need to succeed in today’s job market. According to the 2017 College Student Survey performed by Gallup and the Strada Education Network (one of uConnect’s lead investors), only 34 percent of students feel confident once they’re enrolled in their ability to participate in the job market. Systemic changes in both the education and employment markets have created enormous pressure, raising the stakes and accelerating the timeline for post-secondary institutions to prove they can deliver on the promise of career advancement.
As a result of the market factors, which have only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe there is tremendous opportunity for one of York IE’s latest investments, uConnect.
uConnect helps schools transform its biggest weakness, and the biggest source of anxiety for students, into its greatest strength. uConnect serves any education institution whose students are motivated by career advancement, including traditional colleges and universities, online programs, community colleges, for-profit institutions, lifelong learning programs and specialty career programs. Schools like UCLA, Bentley and Capella University are using uConnect to make previously disaggregated career and experiential learning resources they offer more visible, accessible and universally effective in guiding all students along career-driven pathways. uConnect’s proprietary platform combines deep technical integrations with dozens of the leading career services software providers, content management and modern marketing to integrate career planning into every phase of the student journey to encourage enrollment, persistence and career readiness for all students. It is important to note that uConnect does not compete with other career services focused software as it is instead focused on increasing student engagement and usage of the tools provided by each institution.
While market opportunity is always one of the leading criteria when analyzing an investment, York IE also puts major emphasis on the team behind the startup. uConnect is led by founder and CEO David Kozhuk who is widely considered a visionary within higher education. David has surrounded himself with a strong product and go to market teams and industry advisors. He has well-positioned uConnect to capitalize on higher education’s shift to focus on outcomes and return on investment.