Ocelot, an education technology communications and student engagement platform, announced that it has raised $117 million in funding from the software-focused investment firm K1 Investment Management.
The round is notable because it’s the first time the company has secured outside funding, having previously been bootstrapped.
The capital raised will help not only to expand those tools for financial aid-related interactions, but to potentially bring in more services that form the wider universe of how an institution interacts with its student body.
Founded in 2003 by Damon Vangelis, Ocelot provides a range of services that universities use to manage engagement with their “customers”. It includes texting, chatbots, live chat interfaces, video libraries, and counseling interfaces for financial aid offices to better assess student progress against aid awards (known in the industry as SAP, or satisfactory academic progress). It is on a mission to empower administrators and advisors to reach every student and answer every question.
The company’s comprehensive communications platform includes two-way text campaigns that empower institutions to proactively reach and engage prospective and current students, as well as alumni. It also provides an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot service for universities to handle student’s common questions, in addition to live chat functionality for queries that need more personal answers. Moreover, Ocelot offers students virtual access to a student counseling center, providing them with help and solutions to their problems at their fingertips.
Commenting on the new fundraising, Chief Executive Officer of Ocelot, Talin Andonians, said:
“Colleges and universities are competing with so many other daily distractions to capture students’ attention and foster their engagement in order to meet enrollment and graduation targets. Ocelot was built as a one-stop platform for higher education institutions to alleviate communication barriers. The investment from K1 will enable us to continue bridging the communication gaps between schools and their most important clientele – their students.”
Ocelot has proved to be a hit, with the company serving more than 500 universities across 47 US states. In the last 12 months, the Colorado-based startup claims that it has responded to more than 12 million questions from students, demonstrating the need for an engagement platform.
According to Andonians, the company’s mission is to make a better life more accessible for students and resolve pain points for higher education institutions.
Brian Beard, VP, K1 Investment Management, said in a statement:
“Ocelot’s platform is critical to improving student retention and enabling successful outcomes for students and universities alike. Helping both parties stay closely connected provides clarity and consistency to an otherwise complex and confusing student experience. We are excited to partner with Ocelot to support its continued growth as the company revolutionizes student engagement and communications.”