Startup Spotlight: helps students find the best place to learn

Choosing a school is one of the biggest commitments one can make, and the search isn’t exactly an easy one. Whether you’re looking for a pre-school or a pre-med program, the options are endless, and a quick web search just doesn’t cut it.

When you’re investing what could be tens of thousands — sometimes over a hundred thousand dollars — you better be sure you make the right choice for the right reasons. Bridging the gap between guidance counselor and Google is New York City based startup Noodle.

The company, based in Chelsea with an office overlooking the Hudson River, was founded in 2010. Noodle was the brainchild of a couple of employees who revolutionized The Princeton Review, and the company of 12 seeks to fix a problem they see in today’s education search. When CEO Joe Morgan and friends saw the ease of finding videos, products, and even romantic dates online, they realized that finding education was too difficult, especially in comparison to everything else out there. From this, Noodle was conceived. Take some like minded people with drastically differing resumes (from Harvard to Ironman challenges to tutors and teachers), and you have the birth of

Noodle’s question system is the lifeblood of the site.  When you start your search for a school, it’ll ask you the expected: where’d you go to high school, what were your SAT scores, what’s your overall GPA? After that, the site continues with the typical academic interview questions: how big of a school would you like, how much does cost matter, and what’s your location preference?

But Noodle goes a step further than the generic questions in a real attempt to match students to where they are a perfect fit.  Thirty-five percent of students who attend college drop out within the first year, and while there is no perfect science to it, it’s not always due to grades. Finding a fit both academically and socially is imperative to helping students, which is Noodle’s ultimate goal — and where the site really flourishes. After the round of traditional questions, Noodle asks: “How do you feel about fraternities and sororities?” The colloquial feel of the site makes students feel more at home; with questions like “Which type best describes you?” and answers that range from “preppy” to “geeky” to “alternative” to “I’m not really just one thing.” In a nutshell, Noodle helps students find answers to questions that guidance counselors might not think to ask but are at the top of students’ lists. Also included in the Q&A section are questions about religious affiliation, how difficult/intense you like your classes, and whether or not you like the winter season.

Right now, Noodle is a little more than half operational. There are some technical issues with the site, but it’ll do what you ask of it, for the most part. Perhaps the biggest draw of people would come looking for colleges, and that is totally available and usable right now. In addition to colleges, K-8, high school, tutoring, and a few graduate programs are searchable through Noodle’s interview system in hopes of matching you to the best fit.  For now, there are some searches that are grayed out (unavailable), like career counseling, summer camp, learning disabilities, and after school activities, but they will soon be functional. The company fills an obvious void, and investors have taken notice.

Only in their initial round of investing, Noodle has secured $5 million from various venture capitalists eager to be a part of the project.  That money paired with the over $7 million in anticipated revenue this year means the site may complete the other programs it has lined up and add more in the future.

I peeked around for the purposes of this article and wound up making an account for personal use. It’s the first comprehensive option available for those that might not have help in finding a place of learning that I’ve seen, and I’m excited for the future of it.  Do you find the polished site as attractive as I do?  There’s a comment section for a reason!