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Yale? Harvard? Stanford? Here’s an Offering to Get You There

“Although the student seemed to have lost faith in his abilities, after much reassurance and conversation he agreed to apply to the list we gave him. He graduated from MIT 3 years ago, works with a top consulting firm and lives in Boston with his fiancée. The rest as they say is history!”

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Yale? Harvard? Stanford? Here’s an Offering to Get You There
Yale? Harvard? Stanford? Here’s an Offering to Get You There

This is for all the students looking for a top-notch education from the crème de la crème of universities across the world. If you thought you couldn’t afford it or you weren’t smart enough, maybe you should take a look at ReachIvy.

We speak to Vibha Kagzi, founder and CEO of ReachIvy.

Share with us the inspiration for starting ReachIvy

When I first considered applying from Bombay to go to a top school abroad, I felt lost.

I did not have access to an expert mentor to help me evaluate and understand all the options, find my fit and then navigate the intricate application process.
I knew this was a strong void in the market, especially for high achieving students trying to find their paths.

When it came time to apply for my MBA, I wanted to find a top ranked University where I found a cultural and intellectual fit. I began my research 4 years before it was time for me to apply. I visited top colleges across the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia to truly understand how the colleges differed in their philosophies and teaching styles. I also got detailed inputs from friends, experts and professionals on writing the application process. They demystified a seemingly impossible process for me, making me realize that a little bit of expert guidance can take someone a long way.

After I graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School, I moved back to India to found ReachIvy, a premium education and careers advisory. My objective was to provide students with intensive guidance on study abroad and careers, from experts who have first-hand knowledge of what it means to earn a degree from a top school.

Explain the special features and how it is different from its competitors?

One-stop shop: We provide an extensive range of education and career related services from start to finish. We also have a study abroad and career compass services, a powerhouse of free online resources.

Students can register for free on our platform to access top quality content, curated by in-house experts. This allows students who do not have the means to pay for personalized services to access sample essays, resume templates, process guides, practice questions etc. at no cost!

Global team of experts: Our international team of counselors graduated from top global institutes and have a wealth of professional experience that spans industries as diverse as Financial Services, Consulting, Nonprofits, Media, Creative Writing and other fields. Members of our team hold degrees from Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Cornell, giving them a holistic, global perspective on education and careers.

100% virtual: At ReachIvy we work on a 100% virtual service model. We are able to offer our services to students and professionals across India and the globe. We have assisted students from over 30 countries over the past 5 years.

Non-commission model: The education advisory market is filled with agencies that work on commission structures with universities, however ReachIvy has a non-commission and non-referral fee model. We provide students with pure, unbiased advice based on their specific strengths, potential and strategic fit.

Rigorous and methodical service provision: With regard to our counselling services, we help students with the end-to-end application process. We start working with students as early as 4 years before their application deadlines building up their profiles in a systematic manner.

Brief us on how do you manage to fund this idea?

The savings from the years working in financial services were used to seed ReachIvy. Additionally, since I was a freshly minted Harvard graduate, I leveraged my personal, professional and alumni networks to spread the word and get my first set of clients. The credibility and trust my degrees brought to the table were priceless.

Also, I structured a model that has a low capital expenditure. It was designed to be completely virtual, operating on the cloud and enabling accessibility to students and expert counsellors across the globe, keeping our real estate costs minimal.

What are/what will be your monetization paths?

Initially ReachIvy started as only study abroad services, we then added a slew of career services given the complimentary nature of the two verticals.

We were eager for students to receive information on ancillary education services, get special offers and discounts from partner companies and increase their knowledge base. Therefore, we set up a knowledge-sharing platform where we allow companies to curate high quality and relevant content specifically for our students. All content brought in by partner companies is tagged as ‘Sponsored’ to demarcate it from in-house content.

Tell us how the business has grown so far

We have successful admits across high school, undergraduate, masters, MBA, PhD and executive education programs globally – from INSEAD, Cambridge and LSE, to Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford. We have had at least 1 admit at every top school globally. 99% of students that apply for our 5 school packages have been admitted to at least 1 top school. Our students, thus far, have received over $500,000 in scholarships.

We operate under 3 main verticals, study abroad, career compass and online resources.

What marketing strategies and plans are in place to grow the business?

Website content: We have around 400 video tutorials, 300 guides and 100 articles on the platform. This pull-driven marketing strategy brings students to our website eventually converting them to paid clients

Digital marketing and SEO: We leverage social media extensively using digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Emails and Google PPC campaigns

Platinum partnerships: We have curated a set of exclusive platinum partners based on their alignment in brand, philosophy and offerings. These partners have been on-boarded as knowledge partners who share their expertise with students via digital resources they have curated.

Presence at festivals/fairs: We have been the Knowledge Partners at IIT Bombay’s entrepreneurship conference for the past 3 years. We have also been associated with festivals at HR College, Jai Hind, St. Xavier’s College and other premium institutes. Additionally, we participate in several education and career fairs internationally and domestically.

What is the market size and opportunity?

Over 300,000 Indian students go to study abroad each year.

The Indian study abroad market is growing exponentially. The rules are also changing – regulations are further opening up to allow foreign colleges to establish bases in India. The confluence of market and regulatory opportunity, compounded with a growing ecosystem around study abroad candidates, creates a potent cocktail of opportunity for ReachIvy to capture a larger share of the study abroad market.

Given that we work with students virtually, our potential target market is students and professionals globally in the age-group of 14 -45.

Explain the challenges while setting up ReachIvy. Anything unique to your situation?

The entrenched agency model - There are a large number of education agencies that have partnered with universities and operate using a commission model. Their services are offered at a very low cost to students, as they are a referral fee driven model, making students believe they were getting high quality services for cheap.

Our virtual model - Initially, students and parents were concerned about the efficacy of our 100% virtual service delivery model, since they are used to more traditional face-to-face interactions.

Direct access to Admissions Officers from top colleges - Initially it was very difficult to connect with admission officers from top schools across the globe as there was a basic lack of trust. They were unsure of our motives and the value addition we would provide to students and mistook us for yet another commission-based agency.

Share your some interesting anecdotes good/bad while running the business?

Student gets incorrect advice from a counsellor and then comes to ReachIvy for a second opinion – a student went to another counsellor who looked at his profile and suggested a list of 5 “2nd-tier” colleges to him. He came to us for a second opinion just in time. We assessed his profile (710 GMAT, degree from top engineering college, 4 years of solid experience and more) and we created a shortlist from the top 10 colleges worldwide for him. Although the student seemed to have lost faith in his abilities, after much reassurance and conversation he agreed to apply to the list we gave him. He graduated from MIT 3 years ago, works with a top consulting firm and lives in Boston with his fiancee. The rest as they say is history!

Then there also was the time a student was accepted at Harvard Business School after being rejected by 11 top schools. Many good memories to relish.

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