Abroad101 Aims to Be TripAdvisor for Study Abroad, Seeks Series A

4/30/12Follow @xconomy

There’s a matchmaking startup in town that’s in the midst of raising its Series A round. I’m not talking about an online dating service, though.

“We’re like an eHarmony for study abroad programs,” says Mike Stone, co-founder and president of said startup, Abroad101.

The Boston-based company was one of the winners of the inaugural section of the MassChallenge accelerator program in 2010, taking home a $50,000 check. Stone founded the company in 2007 with his childhood friend Mark Lurie. They were both college seniors at Boston-area schools who had experienced the “archaic” process of sifting through paper binders to learn about study abroad programs at their schools, Stone says. The two wanted to develop a more efficient database enabling students to search for study abroad programs the way they would for hotels on a site like TripAdvisor.

“We turned down corporate jobs to go back home for no salary and work out of our basements,” Stone says.

They nabbed Tufts University as their first client, creating a study abroad evaluation tool to meet the school’s needs, says Stone. In 2008 Stone and Lurie convinced a third childhood friend, Adam Miller, to move back from a startup consulting gig in California and join Abroad101. They even helped him make the trip, visiting schools along the way—like the University of Texas at Austin, Tulane University, and Emory University—to court as customers.

Abroad101 now provides study abroad evaluation tools to 215 colleges, which in turn supply the data that helps it best match students with the program they’re looking for. It’s the largest centralized collection of study abroad data, Stone says.

“When we started the prototype, it was just creating an online database of program evaluations,” Stone says. “The website is a lot more sophisticated and interactive for students now.”

So, a Harvard student looking to study a language program in France for the summer can input these criteria into the Abroad101 website and find a list of programs that suit her needs and are approved for credit by her university. Like TripAdvisor, Abroad101 aggregates evaluation data to … Next Page »

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