U-M Student Startup Seelio Acquired by PlattForm
Three years ago, the University of Michigan student startup Seelio began on a kitchen table in Ann Arbor as a prototype website to help students better tell the story of their academic achievements. This week, Seelio announced it has been acquired by PlattForm, a Kansas-based company specializing in academic program support, career preparation, marketing, and recruiting services for higher education. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“They work on helping universities find and bring in students to make sure they’re successful,” says Seelio co-founder and CEO Moses Lee. “We work with the students to make sure there’s a positive return on their college education.”
Under the new partnership, Seelio will continue to be its own unique brand with the same team, titles, and university partners. Lee says the deal will allow Seelio to invest PlattForm’s resources into its services and technology to drive growth. Lee also says Seelio will keep its office in Ann Arbor so it can take advantage of the wealth of local talent with a deep knowledge of the higher education market.
When Seelio launched, Lee envisioned it as an alternative to LinkedIn for the Millennial set—a place where students could showcase their talent, experience, and hobbies. For example, users could create a page that detailed a fictional company created for a business course complete with photos, videos, and information about the company’s business model.
Last year, Seelio announced it had raised a $900,000 seed round from the First Step Fund, the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, and a number of angel investors. At that time, Seelio also introduced its enterprise product, called Seelio for Educators. At the time, Lee said popular demand from students had led to universities asking for branded portfolio networks of their own. Seelio piloted the Seelio for Educators program, which included activity feeds and custom analytics tools, at MIT, University of Michigan, Towson, Georgetown, UCLA , and the University of Texas at Austin.
Lee says Seelio for Educators is now a full-blown offering, with the partnership expediting its ability to scale. “We’ve had a lot of interest from other universities and a zero-rate of attrition [from places that have adopted the program],” he explains.
Lee says the current focus for Seelio’s team of 20 is in designing curriculum that ensures students are prepared to join the workforce upon graduation. “The bigger problem these days is that people are underemployed or unemployed when they graduate,” he adds. “The unemployment rate is startling. The number one reason kids enroll in college is for career preparation. If universities aren’t doing anything around that, they’re not offering value.”