We got an exclusive look at the pitch memo that college admissions startup Halp used to raise $4 million for its seed round from Lerer Hippeau and Serena Williams’ venture fund
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- Halp is a new startup that coaches international students on their college applications.
- The company has launched in India with the hopes to reach more middle class students.
- Now, the startup has raised a $4 million seed round led by Lerer Hippeau and Serena Ventures.
Halp is a new startup that helps prospective international students manage all of their applications and paperwork as they apply for college in the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia.
Cofounded in 2020 by Matthew McLellan, Marc Fielding, and Justin Mills, the startup offers academic coaching and guidance through the entire college application process for international students at a much lower cost than a standard agent service, which is the current way most students apply to schools abroad.
Instead of placing international students at schools where an agent may have an existing financial stake, Halp uses a combination of remote coaching via WhatsApp and AI analysis to determine where students would have the best shot of acceptance and academic achievement.
The hope is that with Halp, students from modest backgrounds can access top-tier university programs abroad that were once reserved only for the wealthiest of international students.
McLellan told Insider that he first learned of the need for something like Halp when he was in grade 5, after his parents began to rent their spare room out to international students from the University of Western Ontario.
“I learned how much education mattered to international students in terms of gaining access to capital and bettering their lives,” he said. “But I also learned how many times they’re taken advantage of by agents, who often bring a short list of schools to these families who pay the most amount of money to promote them and inflate the costs to make a profit.”
Within the app, Halp helps students upload application documents, find housing, banking, and travel services, insurance, and even scholarship opportunities, while the coaches can provide guidance via WhatsApp on what colleges to aim for based on factors like interests and grade point average, or GPA. The process is all done asynchronously to save time, says McLellan, and the costs are covered by outside partnerships with schools, so Halp is free for students. Halp can place students in one of 3,000 colleges, and also has a higher school acceptance rate for schools than a traditional agency, he said.
Halp is coaching students from over 40 countries, but has a large focus in India, because of the massive untapped market of lower to middle income families who are more than willing to pay for their children’s education, but feel that international schools could be out of reach financially. “The agent market is dominated by the upper class, and we want to help the 99%,” said McLellan.
Halp’s clear mission statement and cost-savings pitch also attracted attention from investors like Lerer Hippeau and Serena Williams’ VC firm Serena Ventures, who personally interviewed the team before signing on to colead Halp’s $4 million seed round. N49P, Shed Capital, Gambit Partners, and several angel investors also participated in the round.