MANBOAT Helps Universities’ and Students’ Finances
Laura Beier | American Inno | August 15, 2018
Quick: What’s the biggest hurdle for students trying to get an education?
If you thought “finances,” you’re barking up the right tree. Oftentimes, education-related money trouble leads to students dropping out, not graduating on time or low grades.
It’s not just students who often suffer. Virtue Analytics CEO Vikas Mehrotra said that $30 billion is spent on incoming freshman classes annually. While there is enough money in the market, he said it is “sub-optimally allocated.”
He provided an analogy: If over-discounted prices are offered for plane tickets, the flight will be full, but the airline will not make enough to profit from the trip. Yet if the airline under-discounts, there will be empty seats — and yet again, not enough profit. Universities face similar conundrums.
Enter MANBOAT (Merit and Need Based Optimization and Allocation Tool), the Woodbury-HQed, 2013-born startup powered by Virtue Analytics. The cloud-based, machine learning program looks to optimize how universities distribute grants, scholarships and other funds and discounts to students, providing schools with the “right optimal number” to distribute. That way, universities can reach as many individuals as possible without losing money.
“The objective is to help both the students and the universities succeed,” said COO Hadrian D’Souza, who developed MANBOAT with Mehrotra. “It’s a balancing act between the two. If you don’t create a win-win, it’s not going to work in the long run.”
Mehrotra added that universities and higher education institutions are essentially high-end labor markets that need to play around with the right allocation to stay afloat.
“If you can optimize allocations, you can optimize not only institution financial success, but also increase student success,” he continued.
The MANBOAT works to do that via its end-to-end platform, which essentially provides universities with hands-on access to their financial data. Various dashboards provide everything for analytics to money-saving recommendations that clients can use to make data-driven decisions.
In just a few months of trying out the product platform, clients can see benefits and significant statistical results. Success of the product is measured both by retention improvement — how much money the university is saving — and how many students are receiving aid.
These results are just one of the reasons Virtue Analytics and the MANBOAT platform have gained notability in the startup scene, with MANBOAT making it into the semifinal round of this year’s MN Cup.
That honor is one that both D’Souza and Mehrohtra mentioned as helpful to their efforts, especially its education section.
“Although we are an enterprise technology product, we primarily operate through the higher education space,” Mehrohtra said.
Then there’s the team’s work with gener8tor’s Minneapolis accelerator. Learning about raising money, improving their pitch, enhancing their network and being surrounded by those “in the same boat” are all benefits they each mentioned from these experiences.
“You can learn a lot by talking to others who are going through the same challenges and adventures as you,” D’Souza said.
Read the full article from American Inno here.