This article is the first in a series of three profiles of ed-tech startups.
The college application process is daunting, to say the least. And there is no guarantee that GPA, extracurricular activities or SAT scores will automatically grant students entry into their school of choice.
If only there were a tool to help students calculate their odds of being accepted to a particular school. Pondering that possibility inspired 19-year-old Jeet Banerjee to create StatFuse.
StatFuse is an online resource featuring tools to help students, counselors and parents with the college admissions process. The idea for the company was sparked by an argument between Banerjee and his business partner, Supan Shah, 18, who, at the time, was a senior in high school; Banerjee was a recent high school graduate. They wanted to be able to determine the odds of Shah getting into a specific school, based on his high school profile. They sought the assistance of the Internet, as millennials often do. Unable to find anything that would solve their problem, Banerjee and Shah decided to create their own website.
"99% of the things I have created, or the things I have learned in business, were from my own experience."
Jeet Banerjee, StatFuse
StatFuse officially launched in February 2012. Initially, the website served as a place for students to simply calculate their chances of acceptance to certain schools, but after feedback from students and admissions experts, the site grew into an online resource to help students, parents and counselors through the college admissions process. The website features tools such as the College Calculator, which uses a patent-pending algorithm to help students determine their admission chances.
Although Banerjee is majoring in business marketing at California State University, Fullerton, he doesn’t believe entrepreneurs need a business degree or any college education to maintain a successful business. “Ninety-nine percent of the things I have created, or the things I have learned in business, were from my own experience, or just doing my own self-discovery and self-learning,” Banerjee notes.
Balancing school and running his businesses can prove challenging for Banerjee. Prioritizing tasks and avoiding multitasking helps him get things done. “If I have to do a proposal for a client by 9:00 p.m., but I have a math test tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., I will focus on the proposal and not worry at all about the math test. Once that proposal is done, then I will worry about the math test,” he explains.
As a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Banerjee does not envision working for someone else. He started his first business, JB Media Force, at the age of 17, while working as an assistant at his father’s software-development company. His entrepreneurial ventures are fueled by an innate desire to solve problems. “I have a passion for solving problems and helping others through my businesses,” Banerjee explains.
Banerjee sees the increase of ed-tech startups powered by millennials as part of a desire to solve problems they experienced growing up in the American school system. “Many students will see a problem, face it and deal with it. When they cannot come up with a solution, they will try to basically create their own startup or something that will help others,” Banerjee said.
"I have a passion for solving problems."
Jeet Banerjee, StatFuse
Despite the increase of investments in education-technology companies over the last decade, Banerjee says the hardest part of running StatFuse has been getting capital. He notes his age has made it difficult for him to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur. “A lot of people tend to disregard my companies or tend to overlook me, often times just because of my age, without even giving me a chance,” Banerjee said.
Statfuse launched as a free product while in its beta phase and gained its first 12,000 users with the help of social media and free commercial spots on high school television networks. The company, which is on its way to a user base of 16,000, is looking to monetize the site. “We’ll try to keep it as affordable as possible for students, while being able to make the product sustainable from a business standpoint,” Banerjee said.
Banerjee sees Statfuse growing into a global brand and hopes to expand his resources to students interested in vocational schools and community colleges as well as traditional four-year institutions.