A Chinese woman who studied in the US shares 4 tips for international success
Business leaders frequently champion international experience. Whether that's studying or working overseas, they argue it can give you th...
Our higher education system leaves students with $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, but only a trace of their tuition is funneled into career placement services. According to The Atlantic Monthly, only 17% of students found their school’s career office to be very helpful.
Roughly 85% of freshmen said getting a good job was a major reason they went to college, and roughly 60% weighted a college’s ability to help them do so when deciding where to attend. This contrasts sharply with the priorities of universities. For instance, U.S. News and World Report considers seven factors when ranking a school. But none of them relate to job placement or employability.
In addition, curriculums are designed in an academic vacuum. As a result, companies encounter computer science graduates who can’t program, liberal arts graduates who can’t write, and a general population of students who are clueless about how to behave in an interview or write an effective email. And some of them spend as much as $200,000 for their degree.
Paragon One’s CareerMapper 1.0 is a multi-step software-driven process. It systematically takes students through a process that progresses from receiving career guidance, to learning how to source interviews, to learning how to ace interviews. Along the way, CareerMapper 1.0 gives students access to career coaches, crowdsourced advice from over 500 industry insiders at top companies, and tools to track progress toward landing an offer.
With the help of CareerMapper’s advisor network, coaches, improved application materials, and professional network, our students and graduates have landed internships and jobs at:
Paragon One generated $120K in revenue in its first full year (2016) and $425K in revenue last year (2017), all before the official launch of CareerMapper 1.0.
We will soon offer financing and scholarship options for students who meet certain criteria with the option of paying back tuition from their first year salary. This is part of our long-term vision of bringing Paragon One to a wider network of students in the US and around the globe.
Students can also purchase a trial version of CareerMapper for $295.
Our gross margin on delivery of the product is 80% after factoring in hourly time for coaching and advising. The margin after factoring in time the coach and operational team spend servicing a student internally is ~65%.
Our contribution margin after taking out customer acquisition cost is ~20%. Our net profit margin is currently negative due to investment in technology and operational processes.
Later in 2018, we will launch CareerMapper 2.0 to bring crowdsourced advisor and coach feedback to students’ application materials at a price that will be more accessible to higher education institutions.
Our Total Addressable Market of nearly $3 billion within this opportunity includes 6M students graduating each year from higher ed institutions and 3.5M white collar workers in their 20’s who want to switch jobs each year.
Until now, there have been four categories of career services solutions for students: job boards (WayUp), career services software (Handshake, Grad Leaders), career development content (The Muse), and mentor marketplaces (Evisors, LinkedIn). Career Mapping is a new category, created by Paragon One.
Career Mapping solutions deliver a student or recent graduate all the way to a job offer. Unlike other categories, Career Mapping is based on a multi-step process, which systematically moves students from receiving career guidance through to learning how to source interviews, and finally to learning how to ace interviews.
It’s ambitious, and it’s working.
The next chapter of Paragon One’s growth includes servicing higher education institutions, university program managers, and international student pathway companies.
Paragon One is in discussion with a number of B2B2C and B2B partners as CareerMapper becomes ready to service institutions.
On track to launch CareerMapper v.2.0 by Q4 of 2018
Version 1.0 was a success: We’ve collected a lot of valuable customer feedback with our early adopters, 98% of whom are international students studying in American universities. CareerMapper v2.0 will launch later in 2018.
We will use funding to hire additional engineers to accelerate our product roadmap and additional business development professionals to accelerate our collaboration with institutions in 2019.
Dear potential supporter,
I’ve been passionate about mentorship and career coaching for over a decade. Starting at MIT (where I met Co-Founder & CTO, Byron Hsu), I helped launch a student-alumni mentorship organization that is still growing today. In my first job out of college, investment banking, I developed tendonitis in my hands. I thought my career was over since an investment banking analyst who can’t type is pretty useless. So I began to sit next to the interns and coach them on doing their jobs better. Over the summer, I brought the full-time offer rate of interns from below 50% to 100%, so I did the same thing for the first-year analysts. The experience stuck with me. After working in VC and co-founding a luxury e-commerce marketplace, AHAlife.com, I turned my attention to bringing career coaching to college students and recent graduates.
Our mission became not just helping students land jobs, but to teach college students how to fish for themselves. Universities imply that students should just show up to career fairs and apply to online job boards. This is how students end up with just a “job” and not a career, wondering years later how they ended up where they are. We all know that launching a great career takes a great amount of research, mentorship, tenacity, and the right connections. Most students don’t have access to the right resources, or the right guidance that teaches them how to carve their own path.
I’m excited for our team to continue the journey as we begin to formally work with higher education institutions.
We're creating an entirely new way for students to get jobs. We call it Career Mapping. If we keep doing our job right, we'll look back and wonder why we ever taught students the old way of finding jobs at all — by going to career fairs and applying to online job boards in the dark.
In the future, students will truly be able to build their professional networks in a real and helpful way. And Paragon One will evolve way beyond transactional solutions such as LinkedIn. In contrast, we’ll provide a micro-community of experts that surrounds a student and truly wants to help, driven by advisors and coaches who are incentivized by a student’s success. Many other solutions will be trying to build their own communities by that point, but we'll have the strongest one in which colleges and alumni networks are brought in to turbocharge their own students’ success. College career offices can become 10x more amazing with this type of approach and technology. We will have learned best how to create the right kind of micro-community to help a student, and that's how students will get jobs most effectively.
Co-Founder & CEO
The educational system today has failed students badly. Together, we can give young people access to expert guidance and, ultimately, the chance to realize their potential, building lives and careers they can be proud of. I invite you to join us. - Matt
$25,000 – $1,070,000
Paragon One needs to raise $25K before the deadline for the campaign to be successful. Maximum amount Paragon One will raise is $1.07M.
Paragon One needs to reach their minimum funding goal before the deadline for the campaign to be successful.
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Option to have your name on the Paragon One investor "Thank you" page for those who support helping students launch a meaningful career
All the above + professional resume feedback from a Paragon One coach for you or someone else
All the above plus a Paragon One T-shirt
All the above plus a live 1-on-1 "career launch" coaching session for you or someone else
All the above and an advisor session with an "industry insider" for you or someone else
All the above + invitation to livestream event for major investors and the Paragon One team
All the above + invitation to the next advisor-student happy hour in New York City
All the above + lunch with an Advisor from the Industry Insider network
All the above + a complimentary CareerMapper ($6,495 value) enrollment for you or someone else
All the above + lunch with the CEO + appointment to Board of Advisors
All of our growth so far has been from direct-to-consumer channels such as Facebook or B2B2C partnerships with college prep agencies where we do content marketing. The next phase of growth will target bringing CareerMapper into higher ed institutions, either directly, or via channel partners such as Online Program Managers and International Student Pathway Programs. We are already in discussions with several of these channel partners and expect a couple of pilots in the fall.
Roughly 50% of our customers come through parent channels and 50% through student channels.
We found a lot of our early adopters in the international student community, including those studying in the US from China and India who found that career resources and support were severely lacking for them. We also skew about 2/3 female and 1/3 male. About 75% of our students are undergraduates, 20% are graduate students, and about 5% have already been working. Among the undergraduates, we are fairly evenly represented between freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior years. So most of our students are looking to land internships first.
Our tuition tends to be on par with Princeton Review premium pricing for college prep, but we know that it's not feasible for most families. We have a few initiatives to tackle this and enable growth to a broader set of students: (1) we soon plan to offer Income Sharing Arrangements for students which allows for a pool of investment capital to finance students and then be repaid after the student has earned enough income from their first job. It doesn't act as a loan, but rather an investment in the student's future potential; (2) we will offer scholarship arrangements for students who meet certain criteria; (3) CareerMapper 2.0 should be able to achieve similar outcomes of CareerMapper 1.0 but at a sub-$1,000 price due to crowdsourced feedback which will also fit the pricing model of most institutions.
Please see the below transcript from Paragon One's pitch at the LAUNCH festival.
Matt: I'm Matt and I'm from New York City.
Jason: Okay. Matt, you have three minutes on the clock. Three two go.
Matt: Hi. I'm Matt, co founder of Paragon One. We're simplifying the process from college to career. Now, as we all know, this is not my slide. But this one is. It's really hard as a student to get a job out of college. Job boards suck and career boards, career fairs suck. So what's a student to do? Well, 97% of our students are getting job and internship offers. How is that happening? Let's take Shelley. She's an industrial engineering student who's interested in product management. But she's worried about how do I get interviews and how do I do well at them? Colleges don't teach you this stuff.
Matt: First, she takes an assessment on our platform. Next, we offer up advisor recommendations. These are experts in different fields. She picks June, who's a senior product manager at a tech company. Then June gets on a video call with her, reviews her resume, gives her feedback and recruiting advice. June submits this feedback, which then goes into Shelley's progress report. The fun doesn't stop there. She gets assigned to a career coach, who then goes into more depth on how the career mapper process works. Essentially, Shelley can check off goals toward her eventual landing of a job. Along the way, advisors are giving feedback on each of these steps. She can watch training content and ask for more help from advisors on things like: How do I source interviews? How do I ace them?
Matt: Shelley was a student of ours and she landed jobs with Tesla and Hitachi. Other students are getting jobs at other top companies like you see here. Career Mapper starts at $300, but the average tuition we're seeing right now is about $3,000. We're already starting to bring the cost down with our next version. And we're starting to offer income sharing arrangements to defer the costs. Now the secret sauce here is that we have this dedicated advisor network that's kind of like a personal career advisory board for students. We marry that with workflow software, custom workflow software we've built so that coaches and counselors have access to data and intelligence that allow them to drive outcomes at scale.
Matt: We're defining a new category called career mapping. It's basically career services turbo charged. If you look at 6 million graduates in the US every year, three and a half millennials looking to switch jobs every year, could be a three billion dollar opportunity. However, we're already seeing early adoption from the international student pathway market, which is a big market here in Australia. We're already seeing 240 percent year over year growth last year, and similar this year in revenue.
Matt: My co founder and I met at MIT, we're very passionate about solving this problem for helping students redefine how they're getting jobs. And our mission going forward is to make sure that we're doing this in a way that universities can also adopt. Our investors who are backing us are very dedicated to this mission as well. And they're looking at the next stage when we start working at institutions.
Matt: So in summary, Paragon One is growing about 240 percent annually, a 97 percent success rate, and a 3 billion dollar market opportunity. Please join us in helping students fish for their own jobs, not just rely on their university. Thank you.
Jason: Okay. Well done. I just wanted to know, to be clear, how much you're charging students? Is it 300 or 3000, it was going a little bit-
Jason: No no no! Wait. You gotta get all the questions at once. So I just wanted to know exactly what the price was. And then, if it is 300 or 3000, how you came to that pricing and if you've done any pricing experimenting. So more thoughts on pricing would be great. Matthew.
Matthew: Are you marketing direct to the students to pay for it or are you partnering with universities?
Jason: Okay. Andrea or Stonely.
Andrea: You just asked my burning question, thanks.
Jason: Okay. Good. Sometimes that happens.
Stonly: How do you recruit and retain your advisors and coaches?
Jason: All right.
Matt: All right. So starting with pricing, this is ... We actually started off experimenting in a lot of different models. The idea with the $300 product is basically it's a trial. So you get essentially three coaching sessions, one with an industry expert, two with a coach. But the tuition programs have multiple sessions. And they actually take you along this career learning plan. So you're assigned a coach. They follow you from beginning to end. And you might have five, ten, twenty advisors on different topics along the way.
Matt: For the next stage of pricing, what we're doing is we're trying to bring the cost down below $1000 per student, to land you with interviews, and hopefully a job offer, because we're starting to talk to institutions. And obviously, they're much more price sensitive, because we see the opportunity where career service offices can use our product. So the next question is how do we market? We've been marketing B2C or B2B2C so far, two channels. We have a Facebook channel, a funnel that we've been basically getting a cost of customer acquisition about 40 percent of our lifetime value. And the other channel has been small boutique, study abroad, and test prep companies, a number of which are actually in China for international students who come here.
Matt: So we work with the international students when they come to the US, but we market to the parents there. Recruiting and retaining advisors. It started off with my personal network from a lot of different careers I've worked in. We started getting referrals. We get a lot of inbounds. And we target on LinkedIn. We haven't done any broad marketing yet though. We do have a bit of training to go through.
Jason: Have people asked for their money back ever, and how do you handle that? 'Cause it seems pretty pricey and if I don't get a job, I would think some of the people you get is negative signaling where you're getting the people who have a hard time getting a job, therefore, some of them might not succeed. And then, do you give them their money back or do they sue you or write something nasty on the internet.
Matt: Correct. Everyone who has asked and there has been five people out of about two hundred that have gone through our tuition based programs, if they ask for their money back, we will give it to them. And so, we understand that having unhappy customers is not a good thing.
Most of the people that I know that have degrees have problems finding work in the industry they got the degree.Christopher BrownInvested 2 days ago
Not just students, even working adults who want to shift career path can use this platformHenry VanteInvested 19 days ago
I believe in giving kids the best future they can get.Berenice PhillipsInvested 22 days ago
Just because an firm like this got me back on my feet here in Youngstown, Ohio. So I believe its gonna be on top in the future. Terrance Phillips IITerrance Phillips IIInvested 24 days ago
As a recent grad of College, there needs to be more supports in place for students to find jobs in their related fields. If Paragon One can continue this trajectory, it can be a hidden gem that changes a students life forever.Avery KondaInvested 26 days ago
Too many graduating students with too much debt that know so little about what careers are available to them. This business fills a great need in our society.John RuskInvested 27 days ago
One the part of the future!Hubert BergeronInvested about 1 month ago
I invested because I agree that there is a big problem in this area and Paragon One works towards providing a solution. I also like that the company is backed by Y Combinator.John WalshInvested about 1 month ago
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