Carnegie Mellon Graduate Luke Skurman built the first version of Niche in 2002. Originally called College Prowler, it was an online store selling physical college guides. Times have changed and the site has changed, taking over a million dollars in investment to ramp up with a new name, then a $ 6.6 million B series from Allen & Company and Grit Capital.
Skurman, a native of San Francisco, started the business after funding the project to find a good college. The site grew and grew, reaching 50 million unique visitors last year and about 8 million visits per month this year. He is currently a board member of Carnegie Mellon University and has won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for Western Pennsylvania in 2016. .
The site helps students and parents find good schools – from kindergarten to university – close to them and track down distant schools that might not be on their radar.
“We are generally one of Google’s best results for companies like Best Suburbs of Chicago or Best Private Schools in New York,” Skurman said. “We managed the company very little in terms of external capital, reinvesting cash flow and increasing to a near break-even level. With the recent increase, we start to increase more aggressively and increase the number of heads from 56 to 80 by the end of the year. “
Skurman created the company after making a 10-stop tour of American universities and found that none of them matched what he had read online and in the guides tourist attractions
“Despite all the great schools, the actual experience of being there – small towns, culture, quality of student life – was not just what I’m Was waiting, “he said. “We had to do research beyond the simple data (and school brochures and websites) to find the right solution.”
The service is currently reviewing the data points of all US and evaluating the best schools according to your specifications. He can tell you where are the best schools in New York or Newton and if Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh is good for a Californian kid.