Q&A With Bobby Touran, Founder of ApplyKit
This time EdTech Times caught up with one of our local Boston edtech startups, ApplyKit – a company that develops an app to help students streamline their college application process. Bobby Touran, founder of ApplyKit, explained to us what ApplyKit is all about and shared his thoughts on edtech and launching a new product or startup.
Company at a Glance:
Founders: Bobby Touran
Product stage: Market
ETT: What’s your elevator pitch?
BT: Searching for colleges and discovering which college is the best fit for you as an applicant is confusing, convoluted, and exhausting. With so much data available on schools, it is very difficult to manually search through all relevant data. At ApplyKit, we are building the next generation of search and discovery tools for students and their parents who are navigating the college application process—the first of these is a mobile-first approach called College Match, which matches students to colleges based on a proprietary student-assessment test.
ETT: What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving?
BT: Interactive search and matching process to simplify the college search and discovery process. Improving college access across all income groups— under-represented students tend to under match, so this is a big opportunity. Also, 1 in 3 college students in America transfers college— this increases the ballooning student debt load. If students match to schools more accurately, we can help to reduce the incidence of dropping out.
ETT: Why did you get into this? What drove you to start this?
BT: My father is a college professor, so I was first exposed to a lot of the inefficiencies surrounding college access, early on. My own background is in business and technology entrepreneurship, so solving a problem in Education really excited me at the time, and it continues to challenge and engage me every day.
ETT: What is the biggest need for your startup? (e.g. funding, development, market access, channels, publicity)
BT: At the moment the key is publicity. Launching a new app from a new publisher is a tough deal to get exposure. The market is crowded and a student’s attention span is so limited that even great apps get buried in the app store, or used once and never again. User feedback is fantastic- but not enough people know about our product yet.
ETT: What should we expect to see from you in the next twelve months? (e.g. product milestones, team size, potential growth/revenue targets)
BT: We are very excited about having just released our iOS app which works beautifully on both iPhones and iPads. Soon we will be releasing an Android version of our app and building out our development team.
ETT: Which three startups/educators/
BT: I keenly follow Blackboard, Peterson’s, and Noodle Education.
ETT: If you could provide students nationwide with one education technology product, what would it be?
BT: Universal tablets.
ETT: Where do you obtain industry information?
BT: We regularly monitor and contribute to the social airwaves— in particular, Twitter— and we also make a point to exhibit at, and attend, key conferences. So far in 2014, we have attended SXSW Education and the GSV EduSummit, and we exhibited at NACAC 2014.
ETT: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting your product/service in the education space?
- Pace of market adoption
- Student re-engagement is a challenge for all high schoolers
- Guidance counselors as an ambassador
ETT: Where do you see education technology going in the next few years?
BT: I believe we are going to see a wide scale move away from large, platform based solutions to more modular, bite sized technologies that plug into an existing tech ecosystem. If we want to see more innovation and development, that is what will be necessary.
EdTech Times thanks Bobby for speaking with us and we recommend you learn more about ApplyKit at
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.