THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
Dave Hurwitt, the founder and CEO of Troove, shed light on the glaring problems with the current college admissions process and how his platform aims to revolutionize it.
Dave highlighted the inefficiencies and shortcomings of the current system, where a staggering 51% of students still need to graduate from their initial college choice. He pointed out the outdated methods colleges use to reach prospective students, such as junk mail and college fairs. With decreased students and the shift to digital administration of standardized tests, colleges face significant challenges in the coming years.
Dave emphasized the high costs associated with student acquisition and the ineffectiveness of traditional marketing tactics. He believes that colleges should focus on the goal of graduation rather than just enrollment.
They aim to address these issues by analyzing the characteristics and conditions that lead to student success and matching incoming first-year students with colleges that align with their needs. They also provide a platform for colleges to connect with potential students who fit their culture well.
Dave argues that a shift in mindset and approach is necessary in college admissions. Colleges can improve their outcomes by focusing on long-term success, utilizing a more targeted and efficient system, and providing better value for students and institutions.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Problems with the current college admissions process
- Inefficiencies and shortcomings of the current system
- Outdated methods used by colleges to reach prospective students
- Challenges faced by colleges in the coming years
- High costs associated with student acquisition
- Shift in focus from enrollment to graduation
- How Troove analyzes characteristics and conditions for student success
- Matching incoming freshmen with colleges that align with their needs
- How Troove helps students find the right college fit
About David Hurwitt:
Dave Hurwitt is a distinguished innovator with a remarkable track record in product development and innovation, generating over $1 billion in sales across various industries.
Notably, he played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the washing machine market in the United States as part of the Whirlpool team. Their reimagining of front-loading washers led to a significant market share increase, saving billions in energy and water consumption.
Based in Burlington, Vermont, Dave embarked on his journey to create Troove with his wife and Golden Retriever. His experience in college admissions and the need for technological advancements in the college search process inspired him to establish Troove—a two-sided, AI-powered platform aimed at helping students discover their college passions and pathways to graduation.
Beyond his entrepreneurial pursuits, Dave is an accomplished photographer, history enthusiast, and avid traveler. Having explored nearly every U.S. state and numerous countries worldwide, his passion for human interaction and blending tradition with innovation shines through in his photography and innovative product creations.
Troove is a groundbreaking software company that aims to revolutionize higher education selection by leveraging collective experience's predictive power. In various aspects of life, we rely on the experiences of those who have gone before us to make informed decisions, be it choosing a restaurant, employer, or neighborhood. However, this valuable resource has often been overlooked when selecting a college.
Troove recognizes that millions have already attended various colleges, experiencing successes and failures. The key question is, what can their combined experiences tell prospective students about their likelihood of success and happiness at a particular institution?
Troove utilizes cutting-edge data science and machine learning tools to extract insights from graduate experiences and match them with current applicants' values, abilities, priorities, and ambitions.
Troove provides applicants with Learning Culture and Social Culture fit scores through a brief questionnaire, clarifying how well they align with past graduates and the institution's offerings. This data-driven approach eliminates the guesswork, helping students find their ideal college environment, peers, and even their preferred course of study and career path.
09:11- “Your goal when an amazing restaurant opens up is not to secure a reservation, the goal is to enjoy a wonderful meal.”
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Speaker (00:00:05) (-) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, it's Dave Hurwitt. Dave, you are the founder and CEO of Truth. Truth is found on the web at truth. That's true of me. Dave, it's so great to have you. Thanks for having me, Josh. All right. Give us an overview of what truth is. The truth is, is a modern approach to finding your best fit in college.
Speaker (00:01:25) (-) - This is something that we all do, either individually or then as parents. And the system that I think most parents find or will find with their own children is it's not that different from the one that we used decades ago and our parents use decades before that. And so what we're trying to do is to use modern matching technologies, you know, use the kind of decision making algorithms that help us to find the right kind of music, the right food, the right products online to help us find the right place in higher education, where we are going to learn best in the classroom and engaged most happily outside the classroom.
Speaker (00:02:02) (-) - Yeah. And why is this needed right now? Talk about maybe why the old way of trying to pick a college is just. It's not ideal.
Speaker (00:02:14) (-) - Yeah, well, I'll tell you, I'll just give you a quick statistic here. The percent of students who stay and graduate from the first school they enroll in is 51%. So it's essentially a flip of the coin with today's system as to whether or not you have found the right place for you to begin with.
Speaker (00:02:31) (-) - And so we really think we can do better than that. We can help students to find the right place, the right things, to study right out of the gate. And for the from the school's perspective, they are seeing fewer students coming towards college and that number is decreasing. And the way that schools have reached students is also crumbling around them. We are all familiar with the junk mail model that pervades in college admissions. Tell me about it.
Speaker (00:02:57) (-) - I got a I got I got a kid going into a senior year right now and it is nearly every day. And, you know, he looks at all this especially like all these out of state that he already knows. He he already knows where he wants to go. He's like he's been pretty set on it for a few years. It makes a lot of sense. Local wants to just live at home. So it's just like, you know, we look at this piles. I mean, he's also done exceptionally well. So, you know, I don't know if the you know, the higher test score kids get a lot more junk mail but he's getting a lot.
Speaker (00:03:28) (-) - Yeah it's and that's that's how it's driven right So what happens today is that schools will by the names of about 250 students for every one student they need to enroll. So an incredibly wide inefficient funnel and schools will specify like you suggest show me the graduating seniors in this class or the juniors show me the kids in my state or within 100 miles of my school and show me the kids that have a test score of better than X, and then they just blast away and they know from from decades of history of just blasting away junk mail that that inefficient model eventually produces enough students. And the problem is, I mean, a, the spending and efficiency is stunning and every school knows it, but they just don't know what to do about that. But, B, there are simply fewer students in the funnel these days. There are 1.5 million fewer students enrolled in US undergraduate schools today than there were than the war at the beginning of Covid. And those students have not come back. So we saw this drop off with Covid.
Speaker (00:04:35) (-) - The other thing that's happening is what in the industry they refer to as the demographic cliff. So in the 2007 recession, the birth rate dropped and that often happens in recessions. It's a macro trend we won't get into here, but birth rates drop and typically they recover. But this the American birth rate has not recovered. And so there are simply about 15% fewer students headed towards college in the coming decade. And so schools are pinched and the other problem and this is a huge problem that's just come up in the last year or so, those SAT and Act tests are going to be administered digitally starting this spring. Stunningly, they they're still done with the number two pencil that most students don't carry around on a regular basis. But what happens when when that goes digital means that the that student's data goes from being the property of the College Board so it can be marketed and sold to the college, to the local school board, whose wi fi and whose system is being used to administer the test. And so the source of of most schools leads is the the College Board, the SAT or the act.
Speaker (00:05:49) (-) - And those are going to really struggle the next coming years. Oh, yeah. Because they're they're losing their monopoly on those those student sources. So if you're an enrollment officer and you've typically solved your problem by just buying more names and overpowering the system with more and more junk spray.
Speaker (00:06:04) (-) - And pray.
Speaker (00:06:05) (-) - You can't. It is the ultimate spray and pray and the supply of spray is going away. Yeah. And so the increase in prey is really not a strategy.
Speaker (00:06:15) (-) - You know, and we think about just the acquisition cost, you know, what that costs the average university and how much that that just gets baked into tuition costs as a result of sorry, kids, you got to pay more to come to our college because it costs us a lot to acquire you. That's right. How stupid is that?
Speaker (00:06:34) (-) - It's very stupid. In fact, I was just looking at data this morning. A recent consulting study that happens every two years suggests that the average private college will spend almost $3,000 to enroll each student. And so if you have a thousand student class size, you're talking to $3 million budget and you, the VP of enrollment at most schools would admit to you maybe not on camera, but.
Speaker (00:07:02) (-) - They would admit to you that they know that 75% of that money never reaches its intended target. Right. You're marketing to your son, who is doing his level best to avoid all of that junk. And instead of being able to engage in a very modern way that these students today expect, schools are continuing to just blast away with with mailers and junk mail and college fairs and emails and text messages and things that the students are just delete, delete, delete.
Speaker (00:07:31) (-) - Absolutely.
Speaker (00:07:32) (-) - Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker (00:07:33) (-) - Listen, colleges. You know, I talk about this frequently. You know, this is the same stuff that a lot of marketers are facing is, you know, for example, in B2B sales, lead gen tactics are burned over, the fields have been decimated. They no longer work using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, just simply because it's been abused for so many years has created a hyper resistant population. So I talk with VP of Sales every single week that are struggling because they're like, How do we get new top of the funnel conversations because the old stuff just isn't working anymore.
Speaker (00:08:10) (-) - Okay, so the idea and I'm a big proponent of spending more time with fewer people and those fewer people being the right people. Right. Right. But but, Dave, can you maybe talk about what this could end up looking like then when when admissions department is partnering with Truth?
Speaker (00:08:30) (-) - Yeah. So the the two big insights here that we are bringing to market that are different from what exists today are, number one, the goal should not be day one, freshman year, the day the goal should be graduation, right? So most of the enrollment metrics that all the focus and analytics are, how can I grow my application base? How can I get more students to submit an application to us? And that's just that's just not the right approach, right? Your goal when a when an amazing restaurant opens up, your goal is not to secure reservation. The goal is to enjoy a wonderful meal. Yes. You need a reservation. Yes, you need to enroll students. But what happens to those students is far more important.
Speaker (00:09:11) (-) - So what truth does is we look at the actual graduates, recent graduates of a school, and we figure out what were the set of conditions that were important to them academically and socially. And then we are able to find those same qualities, those the same characteristics and conditions that are being sought by incoming freshmen to say this is the place where you are most likely to find the set of conditions academically and socially, where you're going to thrive over the long term. Okay. So the shift from let's worry about day one to worry about graduation is the first piece. The second piece is let's stop having every single school create their own unique prospect pool. So a school that might buy, you know, 250,000 names to enroll, 1000 freshmen, they're only seeing and and trying to communicate with 250,000 students out of a US high school senior class of about 3.7 million students. Now, not all of those students are going to be perfect, as you suggests, with your son. There's a geographic element. But basically most schools are seeing and being seen by only a tiny fraction of the market because they're excluding all these other potential students.
Speaker (00:10:26) (-) - So what we're doing is we're saying we have a better filter to show you which students will enroll and stay and graduate with you. Right. Which creates a lot more value for the school and for the student. And secondly, we have a platform to approach to this so that a school who joins the true platform, we establish what their graduation code is, and then we apply that code against every student who comes on to our platform 24 over seven, 365, and we simply find the right students that match with their culture. And then we send those over to the school and say, Here is a really interesting match for you. You should reach out and speak to that student. And then we do the same on our part to reach to the student and say, you know, Hey, Josh, we saw you just matched with the University of whatever, and you should check them out because you said you wanted this, this and this and they have that. And so it opens up the line of communication.
Speaker (00:11:21) (-) - It opens up the basis for why you would be a great fit. And that makes it easier to speak to your guidance counselor, to speak to your parents and say, this is what I'm looking for, this is what they have to offer, this is what they don't have to offer. And this is why I'm interested in these schools. And so we're at the top of the funnel helping to expand the reach of every school and to show them here are the students globally, not just domestically, but globally, who fit really well with your unique culture.
Speaker (00:11:48) (-) - Yeah. So does this require and forgive me if you mentioned this night and I missed it, but so this requires the student to kind of design and build a profile within Trouve.
Speaker (00:12:01) (-) - Not not really a profile per se. It does require them to take about a ten minute quiz about their academic and social preferences. And so we need to ask them a series of questions. And from our experience and we develop this with industrial psychologists who were looking for psychological safety kind of in and out of the classroom.
Speaker (00:12:21) (-) - Right? So what are the set of conditions where you feel like your best self academically? And so we ask questions like when you how important is a relationship with your teacher? And when you have a problem in a class, how do you solve that problem? Do you go see your teacher? Do you talk to your classmates? Do you Google it? And so you can see a pattern of behavior that is the kind of learning style that you have as an individual without having to be overly articulate about what that is. You can just answer some some questions. You know, the answers to that creates a pattern and that we match that pattern with how the alumni, the recent graduates and current students of those schools answer those same questions. And when we have a match, we show the student the schools where their particular answers match pretty well.
Speaker (00:13:07) (-) - Yeah. Dave, How? Tell me about the your company itself, Like how you've brought this to market, how you continue to grow.
Speaker (00:13:16) (-) - Yeah. So, you know, our, our having a two sided marketplace here that serves both the consumer, student, consumer and their families and the schools.
Speaker (00:13:24) (-) - We made a decision early on to focus initially on the schools and monetize this business through the schools. Schools are collectively spending about $15 billion a year to market to and admit students. And so we see the the enrollment, the admissions office as the $15 billion gateway to the trillion dollar higher education industry. Right. So a really pivotal little point. The student side is ultimately something that interests us significantly. But as a startup, we have to start somewhere. And so we chose to market and monetize our business through the school channel and make our service free to students so we could try to build that side of it with less friction. But ultimately I think there might be a model where we have a relatively small consumer price but still have those dual dual revenue streams of of both sides of the market contributing.
Speaker (00:14:17) (-) - Yeah. Okay, So what does. How does a how does a university engage with you? Like, how do they begin that process?
Speaker (00:14:26) (-) - Yeah, it's really simple. We have priced this to be sort of an add on, if you will, an extension to what they're already doing.
Speaker (00:14:33) (-) - And what we do is, is we administer our quiz with a small representative sample of their recent grads and current students, and then we integrate that data into our matching algorithm. So the platform that exists today allows a student to log on to GroupMe, take a ten minute quiz, and then get matched against any one of 4000 schools that are on the platform today. So the the consumer experience is really broad ranging. You can get matched with any school. And we have hundreds of data points about every school that are sort of openly available. And then we add to that we supplement to our data stream the specific unique answers to your school when you become a true partner. And then, like I said, every time a student comes to truth, we compare them to your unique data and then we send you all the matches all year long, not just in single buys, but, you know, every week we're delivering new matches of highly qualified students to schools and reaching back out to those students to say, these are the schools where you really should fit.
Speaker (00:15:34) (-) - And the consumer experience is great. Kids can come back in, they can like and favorite and create a college list off of that man. So it's designed to be very friendly for the students and very functional for the schools. And we send them only the what we refer to as the green matches. And that was one of the principles. I just really quickly, I read a study about eHarmony several years ago, and eHarmony is not the sexiest dating site anymore, but one of the pioneers in the online dating business. And they were responsible in their heyday for about 5% of all the marriages every year in the US. So massive sample size. And what they did is they said, let's not make this about first dates, let's make this about marriage, right? So from my perspective, not about getting into college, but about graduating from college. And so if marriage was there, was the goal of eHarmony is the goal of eHarmony. They ask you a series of questions upfront about what type of person you're looking for and what type of person you are, and then they match you with whichever people best fit your particular personality.
Speaker (00:16:40) (-) - And then what's interesting is they only ever show you then those people. So you're looking at a, you know, a whole bunch of people you might be able to date, but they have been selected just for you. And eHarmony did a study to say what was the divorce rate for the hundreds of thousands or millions of people that met and married through eHarmony. And what they found was a divorce rate with that methodology change of 3.9%. So more than an order of magnitude improvement of outcome when they move the quiz up front and made the quiz about long term compatibility. And so we model that and said, okay, if we move a quiz up front and make the quiz about graduation and sort of lifetime engagement with the school as opposed to will I get in? And then we said, okay, we're only going to show the schools the positive green fits. We're not just going to send them any kids name. We're going to try to cut down on this inefficient, junk mail driven system and simply make the connections that both sides can see are really tangible.
Speaker (00:17:39) (-) - Good connections. Yeah.
Speaker (00:17:41) (-) - Well, that makes a lot of sense to me, Dave. I love it. And that's that's the.
Speaker (00:17:47) (-) - Response we get from schools, you know? Yeah. You know, it's. I totally get it now. You and I both know that that some customers are early adopters and some are slower to adopt and most are going to wait and see what the whole industry does. And the admissions industry is no different. It might in fact, may be a little stodgy about this. And so, you know, we're in the business right now of seeking out the early adopters, the change makers, whose first question back to you after they hear the pitch isn't how many other schools are on the system, right? How many students do you have? Because when they ask that, I know my answer is, hey, you're not for me. I'm going to I'm going to cut this short and say you and I are going to speak again six months, a year or two years from now, and I'm going to charge you a whole lot more money.
Speaker (00:18:29) (-) - And you're going to want this because everyone else in the neighborhood is going to have it. But you're not my early adopter. And that's okay. That's that's all right. But I'm not going to waste my time on schools that are going to want to wait and see and look for company before they make a decision. Yeah.
Speaker (00:18:44) (-) - All right. David Hurwitz, again, your website prove me anyone involved. You know, again, I think especially if you are connected with innovators in education, you're right, there are a lot of there are a lot of things that are broken in education admissions. Absolutely. One of them and again, it just seems so inefficient. It seems so old school. We have the technology. That's right. Yeah, we do. Dave Next steps for someone who is a. Decision maker in the admissions world.
Speaker (00:19:18) (-) - You can reach me at David, at GroupMe. You can go to GroupMe and reach out to us through our website. We're going to be we're at most of the big career school conferences and things, so we're easy to find and happy to engage in a conversation.
Speaker (00:19:33) (-) - Yeah, Awesome. All right. David Hurwitt, again founder and CEO of True Found on the Web at Truman. Dave, thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker (00:19:41) (-) - Thank you, Josh.
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