Moving closer and closer towards graduation — and the dreaded job search — can be nerve wracking for students. Not only is beginning a new chapter of life daunting, but resources for skill preparation, financial planning, internships, job search, and continuing education funding are often difficult to find and navigate. Steppingblocks aims to take the fear out of planning for life post-graduation.
“Our current education system is failing to prepare our students for the real world, with the shocking reality that the average student-counselor ratio is ~500:1 in the U.S.,” says co-founder and CEO Carlo Martinez. “Upon graduation, many students are faced with disappointment, unemployment/underemployment, and excessive student loan debt.”
Steppingblocks prides itself on being a resource built specifically for students, instead of parents or teachers. Their platform aggregates all immediate post-schooling resources into one easy-to-navigate, social, and engaging user experience.
Hypepotamus had a chance to speak with Martinez about what sets Steppingblocks apart from competition, funding, and how working several non-degree-required jobs challenged him to create Steppingblocks.
Year/Date founded? April 2015
Number of employees: 6
Funding or bootstrapped?
Steppingblocks has been funded by the company founders, friends and family. While Steppingblocks is fully built and ready to scale, we are seeking a 750K investment to market the platform, optimize the back-end infrastructure and develop the sales and operations of the company.
What’s your elevator pitch?
The need to understand how the real world works in the job market is critical, and students need to prepare as early as possible. The overwhelming process of education and career preparation has many components such as selecting a college, major, funding education, skills preparation, internships, experience etc.
Steppingblocks relieves the students (and their parents) from this burden by providing a platform that combines all of this information and helpful resources in a single place. The platform is built upon real data in an engaging and easy to use, interactive format. We encourage every student to sign up for Steppingblocks to start their journey towards successful future.
Describe the market/industry impact.
Students are spending 38 minutes on average with advisors over their four years of high school. When you consider the decisions that must be made in this critical period, this statistic becomes even more alarming. Steppingblocks plans to be the dominant digital career counselor by scaling the efforts of career and guidance counselors by 1) Increasing the number of engagements with students, 2) Increasing the efficiency of these engagements, and 3) Establishing goals for students and empowering them to meet these goals.
What’s your revenue model?
Steppingblocks is a subscription based revenue model. Any student or parent can sign up for full access to the platform for $9.99/month or $99/year. Institutions (high Schools, student organizations, etc.) can sign up for an annual license based on student volume with an average price of $9.99/year per student. Steppingblocks is currently implemented in a number of high schools, colleges, and student organizations in Georgia.
How did you come up with this idea?
When I graduated college, I was incredibly unprepared. While I had a decent degree and grades, every job I applied for seemed to be unattainable. It took me a few years to find my very first entry level corporate job (Which realistically did not require a college degree). While climbing the corporate ladder, I found my passion in data analytics, where my job entailed working with industry leaders to make strategic business decisions using data. I knew I could use this methodology to help students like myself with the overwhelming process of making education and career decisions, so after extensive R&D and testing, I decided to dedicate all of my time to develop a solution.
Who are your competitors and why do you stand out?
Our competitors are education software companies that provide resources for student success such as Naviance, Overgrad, and Youscience, amongst others. Why Steppingblocks? Most education platforms are built top-down, for parents and/or teachers to make the students use the software; we reversed this. Without sacrificing quality, Steppingblocks was built and designed to bring a unique, engaging, interactive, and social experience to the students. Given the limited student attention span, Steppingblocks maximizes the window of student interaction to create interest in building a career strategy.
What kind of mentor could you use the most right now?
We would love to meet individuals that have navigated the sales process though the institutional education system (both public and private). Also, anyone that has been successful at mass media advertising to help us with B2C sales strategies.