Latin American students want to attend universities and institutions of higher education. Yet student enrollment is low. Meanwhile, institutions want strong students but can’t find them.
Leaducate is an Argentinian startup trying to meet both groups in the middle. Students access the platform for free while institutions pay for leads on qualified students.
Leaducate Chief Operations Officer Santiago Seri traveled to Mexico City from Argentina to compete in Challenge Cup and share his startup’s story and success—and his pitch ended up winning the education category. Post-event, he elaborated on the impact Leaducate is having so far.
What is the struggle—specifically in higher education in Latin America—that you want to solve?
A huge problem is that when you have to decide where to study, you have a lot of options but there’s not clear information. From a student perspective, you have to make a tough decision that dictates your professional career and money and takes lot of time and you don’t have the information necessary to make that choice.
From the institutional side, they want to recruit students in a profitable balance and there’s a huge problem that’s related to the cost of acquiring students: student turnover. That’s a problem we can solve if students make better decisions with more information.
The platform, in a sense, helps both groups. What do I get out of it as a student and as an institution?
The platform is mainly focused on students. It’s like a classified ad where you can find all the academic offerings available in the market, and then you can search, discover and compare to pick the better option for you. And you can get in contact with the institution in real-time so you can get feedback and access to information about the application and enrollment process.
For the institution, they’re not a user [of the platform] but they are the customer of the platform. The leads that they get then turn into future students.
Leaducate has $1.5 million in revenue from lead generation. How did you reach that high amount?
We generate leads from our online platform and then sell these to the institutions. We charge around $2.50 for every institution [per student]. Last year we generated around 630,000 leads, so we have the final amount of $1.5 million in revenue.
You said during the pitch that it was an eight-year process to validate this platform. What exactly took place during those eight years?
We started the company in 2006 in Argentina. We focused on universities. Then we got traction. The first two years was pure traction and profit and almost no revenue. Then we decided to invest every, every penny we had from revenue so we started expanding our user base and expanding to other businesses like continuing education and post-graduate.
What led you to start this company?
I have a degree in business administration. The main founder also has a background in business administration, but he’s more focused on marketing. I’m more focused on finance management and sales, and the third cofounder focuses on technology and technology management.
The Leaducate website has gotten 11 million hits, which is a pretty staggeringly high amount of web traffic. How are users finding you?
Basically our user acquisition strategy has several channels. We have organic traffic that comes from SEO. We have around half a million hits a month that comes from organic search. Then we have marketing advanced strategies, mainly focused on Facebook ads and Google Adwords. And then we use social media as a social platform.
So far we’ve been focused on Argentina. That’s where our main revenue stream is. Last year we rolled out our platform throughout Latin America to nine more countries. That includes Spain, which isn’t in Latin America but is a key market for us. This year we are focusing on our commercial rollout. We are getting traction from our user base, generating leads, launching free trials for institutions.