Business Spotlight: Streamlining Studying Abroad
FAU Venture Class 9 Company Helps Students Travel Internationally
By Bethany Augliere
Studying abroad can open up access to world-class universities and open up doors to career opportunities. It’s also an investment for the student and their family.
“Education is one of the best investments an international student can make, and bad decisions can be very costly,” said John Evans, who founded Catalyst Global Education Marketplace (GEM) an online platform that helps students and families with their studying abroad journey.
Catalyst GEM, part of FAU’s Tech Runway venture class 9, uses technology to match students and institutions across the globe, and reducing costs for families, according to Evans, who previously worked in the international education industry for almost three decades helping client institutions grow their international student enrollment. Now, he’s using that experience to assist students who want to study abroad.
Universities that are engaged in international student recruitment activities have traditionally worked with local, in-country agents. Catalyst GEM provides an alternative by connecting them directly with international students who are a match based on their academic background, program selection and budget. International students are provided with free access to a technology platform where they can search and filter more than 20,000 programs, manage their applications, access scholarships, student loans and more. The platform is supported by a team of enrollment specialists who assist students as needed with counseling sessions, webinars and relevant content.
For help with planning the early stages of the business and accessing the local investor ecosystem, Evans turned to FAU’s Tech Runway, which assisted with Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits or promotional coupons through the AWS Activate program for startups, and a 90% discount from HubSpot, which has collectively saved the company around $50,000 in expenses, Evans said. “We have greatly benefited from the workshops, encouragement and guidance from the entire Tech Runway team, and expertise from our mentor team,” he added.
Evans said his next goal is to accelerate the scale of the company through new industry partnerships and investment. Since the platform was launched in September 2021, thousands of students have used Catalyst GEM to research and initiate their higher education applications for studying abroad.
“The (Tech Runway) mentors have been an asset in helping us prepare for engagement with investor groups,” Evans said. “Overall it’s been a thoroughly rewarding experience and we look forward to our continued good relationship with the Tech Runway team.”
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