Q&A with Navah Fuchs, Founder of Angel Ed
Company at a Glance:
Founders: Navah Fuchs, David Hopkins, Yan Gu
Founded: January 2013
Category: Social enterprise education financing
Product stage: Beta
LinkedIn company page: http://www.linkedin.com/company/angel-ed-inc-?trk=cp_followed_name_angel-ed-inc-
Company twitter: @Angel_Ed_Grants
Founder twitter: @navahf
ETT: What is Angel Ed?
NF: Angel Ed helps students be as debt-free and employable as possible through a happy mix of crowd-funded scholarship and mentorship. We are a non-profit educational community harnessing the power of $100 million un-awarded scholarships as well as offering a unique CSR/talent acquisition hybrid to companies across all verticals.
ETT: What is the core problem in education you’re solving?
NF: The current landscape for students and their families who need to make higher-ed part of their career path face daunting choices: take out on an average $35K of loans at an average interest rate of 6.8% – or forgo their higher-ed dreams. Add to this the fact that most students have had no real fiscal literacy or management training up until they’re about to fill in their FASFA and didn’t have someone teaching them how to navigate the scholarship process, and it becomes clearer why there’s on average $100 million in financial aid left on the table each year.
ETT: The student loan crisis seems so overwhelming, where is the opportunity to affect real change?
NF: We see a huge opportunity to help students access that funding through the power of crowdfunding, while ensuring financial aid is paired with guidance. In this way we solve three key problems in education: taking the hassle of finding and applying for scholarships away from the student, supporting students career and life questions which offsets staffing shortages in career development, as well as breaking down the communication barriers between companies and universities on what students need to know to survive in their industry.
ETT: Who are your users and who are your customers?
NF: We have four core audiences:
and Mom & Pop Donors:
Scholarships and companies leverage our technology and our network of talented students for applicant and talent pipelines respectively. Both pay a nominal fee for access, as well as their endowment to the students. We also offer workshops and events that are open to the public and our “Angel Edians” for a small fee.
ETT: How have you adapted the crowdfunding platform to the education space?
NF: Our approach is different in several ways:
- Investment decisions are kept on a macro level: Rather than investing in a specific individual, donors invest in fields of study they believe in, qualities they want to reward, or demographics they care about cultivating.
- Combining mentorship with money: While taking an agnostic approach to what the students pursue, we pair our students with mentors in their desired fields.
- Data-based allocation: Our proprietary donation algorithm matches students to funding opportunities and allocates funds to their accounts.
- We pay the bills directly: Instead of giving the students the cash, we pay their bills directly, for any education-based fee processed though their educational institution (tuition, books, and dormitory fees just to name a few).
ETT: How do you keep the process fair and unbiased?
NF: By allowing the market to decide which programs will succeed and fail, as well as what demographics perform the best across location and industry, we offer equal opportunity and accountability.
ETT: Crowdfunding has been under scrutiny and there is anticipated increased regulation. Will that affect Angel Ed?
NF: From day one we have been structured to survive the SEC regulatory process expected in the coming weeks. One of the chief mechanisms of crowdfunding is that non-financial institutions are investing or structuring loans to businesses, individuals, or projects. Even when it is reward-based, the investor is still expecting some kind of specified return.
Yet most crowdfunding investor or loan issuers do not understand the implications of high-risk investment, so default rates are inherently higher. Because of our operational and strategic structure, we will be in a safer position to continue our offering than straightforward for-profit crowdfunding platforms.
ETT: How can AngelEd provide a unique, data-driven look into higher ed?
NF: What we’re really excited to see is what types of programs show success by the data. No one is currently able to make an objective argument as to which types of programs will best prepare a student, nor which age demographic is best prepared to take advantage of the educational opportunity (although the average undergrad graduates at 27). We generate the data to help institutions improve their programs and students/companies to make informed decisions on their higher-ed interactions.
ETT: Where does the name come from?
NF: Angel investment for education.
ETT: What is next for Angel Ed?
NF: Our launch party is in a few weeks, on October 4th in downtown Boston. We welcome all of those interested to RSVP and join us. Also, next year we will be releasing the data about the effectiveness of combining mentorship and scholarships in tandem.
ETT: What does your startup need right now?
NF: We are actively pursuing a round of philanthropic investment, and also need more mentors for our students.
Many thanks to Navah Fuchs for talking with us, and encourage you to find out more by clicking on the Angel Ed logo below:
Laurisa Neuwirth is a shameless evangelist on behalf of the Greater Boston innovation economy. With a diverse background including software development, philanthropy and human capital, Laurisa blogs about technology disruptions in industries that are critical to our local economy. You can follow her @LaurisaNeuwirth.