The need for academic support, especially in the realm of online learning is a prevalent one. Upswing uses innovative technology to not only meet that need, but to adapt to the changing requirements in the realm of academia.
Upswing is an “online knowledge-sharing marketplace,” and we’re excited to share their story here!
What’s your one sentence elevator pitch?
Upswing is a software company that partners with colleges and universities to improve student retention through personalized, data-driven technology.
What do you do and who are your customers?
By providing captivating technology tailored to student preferences and schedules, colleges and universities will see a substantial growth in academic success propelled through real-time student support.
Through modernization of existing student learning centers, colleges are able to provide real-time academic support to students after hours and on weekends. This includes online students that have typically not had the same level of support as students taking traditional classes.
By continuously collecting student and coach data, we are able to learn specific information on each participant, while providing the college with real-time analytics. This includes metrics like learning trends and student performance reports, which the college turns into action steps in order to ensure that the student stays in school.
Our business model is direct B2B, with the college covering all of the services, making it free for students to receive real-time academic support wherever and whenever.
Who are the founders, what are their backgrounds and why are they passionate about this company?
Melvin Hines (CEO) – Melvin grew up in a small town called Albany in south Georgia. His incoming freshman high school class contained over 250 students. By the time he graduated, there were only 68 of them remaining. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Melvin received a JD/MBA from Duke University, where he started a law forum for social and educational equality before becoming a law professor at NC Central University.
Alex Pritchett (COO) – While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Alex founded a mentoring organization for Latino youth. Through his leadership in the program, we saw first-hand the impact that academic and mentoring support has on student success. After working in software development for a couple of years, he decided to leverage technology to help improve education through Upswing.
Chris Webb (CTO) – At the age of 15, Chris was challenged to a coding competition by the CEO of a local tech company. After winning the competition, he sold the final result to the CEO’s company. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Chris took his talents to New York where he did tech consulting for various Fortune 500 companies, however, the rigidity of consulting and large corporations never fit his lifestyle and he was drawn into the startup scene.
Morgan Intrator (CCO) – Morgan took his engineering degree from Vanderbilt University and started challenging the way that his employers (GE and then Citigroup) operated when it came to generating value for their customers. He lead customer development while employed by Citigroup and has a passion for figuring things out. As a constant learner and teacher, Morgan loves helping other people understand and interact with software.
What major milestones have you reached and what are your startup’s plans for this year?
- Achieved over $10,000 MRR (monthly recurring revenue) in roughly 6 months after launching our platform in October 2013.
- Accepted into and completed the Tech Wildcatters spring 2014 accelerator program in Dallas, TX.
- Grew our team of 2 initial founders (Alex Pritchett and Melvin Hines) into 4 by merging with a company called YourSigma (Morgan Intrator and Chris Webb), which was also going through the Tech Wildcatters program. Since then, we have hired a front-end developer, bringing our total full-time employee count to 5.
- Currently have raised around half of our convertible note round.
Our plan can be summed up in one phrase: Go Fast. Currently, we are recruiting a growth lead (sales), a marketing lead, and a full-stack developer to help us continue to grow our customer base while preparing to support thousands of students for the fall semester. We plan on expanding our current customer base from 6 schools to 15 by the end of December, and to over 40 by the end of next May. The data built out from partnering with this many schools will help us to provide additional valuable insights to these colleges, while continuing to focus on improving student retention.