Why We Invested in Empowerly

By Carey Lai, Robin Chan and Veda Patel

Getting into one’s dream college can often be a life-changing event. But the college admissions process has become increasingly competitive and stress-inducing, leaving many students and their parents feeling helpless. College admissions counseling has long existed to help them navigate this. While most schools offer college counselors, often there is just a single counselor to hundreds of students, meaning there are huge constraints on the time and advice each student receives. As an industry, it is still highly fragmented with many small mom and pop shops operated by single counselors in a typically low-tech process. For many of these counselors, what they do is neither repeatable nor scalable. 

That is where Empowerly is different. We love companies that are digitizing an analog industry, and that is why we are excited to be leading Empowerly’s Series A round. 

When Carey first met Changxiao at G&Y Bakery & Cafe in Chinatown, he was immediately struck by the vision of his and his co-founder Hanmei, to build a data-driven technology platform that would support everyone from “cradle to career”. 

They are starting first by tackling the nebulous college admissions process. To do this, Empowerly has already recruited a deep and diverse bench of highly qualified college counselors. By using an algorithm to matchmake counselors with students, each match is highly personalized and reduces the time needed to find a good fit. 

Their platform further automates a lot of the mundane tasks that a counselor and student need to do, such as scheduling, tracking applications, and reviewing essay grammar and effectiveness, allowing each counselor to maximize their time spent on helping the student. 

It leverages AI to help students and counselors get smarter, by learning from past successful applications and essays. Empowerly produces an “Empowerly Score” that indexes each student to let them know areas they are strong and/or weak in so they know where to focus their time and effort as they build out their college applications. 

All of this has both simplified the college admissions process and raised the success rate for each student, while also making it both repeatable and scalable to each new cohort of college-aspiring students, of which there are nearly 12 million (grades 9 through 11) just in the US.

Beyond the actual admissions process, Empowerly addresses the holistic needs of students, providing access to internships and research opportunities in their areas of passion. 

With strong demand, the biggest proof of concept has come from the students who have used them. Those who have used this platform to get into their dream schools could not imagine doing it again without Empowerly. Some of those students, now in college, have developed close relationships with their counselors and have continued to use Empowerly as they decide on their majors, grad school or apply for internships. 

Empowerly already has plans to work with more organizations and companies so that many more parents and their children can get access to this kind of support.

We think the Empowerly team is just at the beginning of their journey. It is well-positioned to become a lifelong mentoring platform for many, helping young students and beyond successfully navigate life’s major decisions and milestones through their use of technology and data (think career changes, vocational training, executive coaching and more). We are energized by the commitment of Changxiao, Hanmei and their team to improve peoples’ lives by helping them achieve their dreams, whatever those may be. We could not be more thrilled to be on this journey with this team.

If you are a student or parent of a student who wants to enroll in Empowerly, or if you want to bring Empowerly as a benefit to your company, reach out to us at info@conductive.vc.