It’s “All things Student” by Stoogle – this internet-based information portal assists students to decide which institution of higher learning to study at and what field of study they qualify to enroll for after matric. The portal also provides parents and guardians with advice on how to access finance for their children’s education. By Gugu Lourie
This Cape Town-based startup, Stoogle, was founded initially as “Varsity Vibes” – a website for high school students to get more information about university. It now aims to help thousands of students to make better decisions about where they are going to study after matric.
The startup was founded by Jason Basel (CEO) and Ben Rath (COO) and James Kieer (CTO) and was funded through organic cash flows.
Explaining how the business idea came about, Basel said: “The idea was borne as a consequence of my experience with university. There simply wasn’t enough information available to me to make an informed decision about what and where I wanted to study”.
He said the concept evolved with time and Stoogle was now in “pursuit of a much more complete objective … to cover all things student, to help on every front”.
TechFinancials.co.za spoke with Basel about the creation of this startup and their plans for the future.
What is Stoogle’s main objective?
At Stoogle, we’re trying to cover every key decision point from subject choices in Grade 9 to getting a job after university, and everything in between. That means helping students decide where to go and what to study.
It means providing the best bursary search-and-apply functionality in the world. It means to provide forums for second hand goods exchange and job shadowing opportunities and internships. It even means an online store, and the most efficient recruiting platform in SA. Ultimately we’re helping to ease the transition from school to university and beyond.
What sets Stoogle apart from its peers or other start-ups in the same industry?
Firstly, we don’t believe anyone is competing with us. Existing sites offer nothing but browsing-value material, whereas people come to us for a reason.
They come to us to get something they didn’t have before, not just because they saw something cool on Facebook.
More than anything, we have the hardest-working startup team around, and a better understanding of our market than anyone else. We’re together 24/7, and that means we’re ten times faster and 20 times more energetic than everyone else.
What service are providing to students?
We’re a multifaceted company. As our primary concern, we provide information on where to study, what to study and how to finance your studies.
From this base, we are building and launching platforms like;
Stoogle Advisor: High school students can input their marks (or what they expect to get), and test what degrees they can get into at different institutions based on entrance requirements. Our algorithms thus allow students to assess what they need to work towards for their final exams.
Stoogle Bursaries: Students can filter through thousands of bursary listings based on what they want to study, and can apply on the site – a first in SA.
Students can fill in a questionnaire, and Stoogle will provide application forms to a list of bursaries that suit them.
Stoogle Books: SA’s first textbook classifieds site – ultimately Gumtree for textbooks.
How are you or planning to provide an exciting or appealing solution to students?
We’re not really here to be exciting – we’re here to help with real world stuff … our products do the job better than anything that has come before. All the same, we do some pretty cool stuff at Stoogle. We run regular internships for high school students at our Hout Bay and Sandton offices. We’re always running awesome competitions for bungee jumping, barista courses and all sorts of stuff.
Is Stoogle prepared to sell a strategic stake to a potential investor?
We’re always looking for ways to stock our guns with ammo so we can fire faster and more effectively. If an investor can do that and provide strategic assistance, we’re always open to a cup of coffee and investment banter!
How does Stoogle make money if students use it for free?
In short, we charge corporates, not our users. We pay the bills through advertising, but we have a pretty interesting model: With our upcoming products, we’re building a bidding system for corporates to boost their bursary and internship intakes, demographic pattern algorithms which suggest niche branding space on our platform suite to help corporates manipulate their exposure. Banner ads are a thing of the past. They can add some value for advertisers, but we’re of the opinion that they can only sustain you as a company, but will not provide the cash flow required to build a R50 billion company.
Any plans to expand the platform in the rest of Africa?
We’re going to be in SA only for another year or so, but we’ll be piloting two or three platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Poland and the UK in the latter part of 2016.