Online Student Retention
Palo Alto, California, United States United States
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Company description

High school dropout rates in urban school districts surpassed 50% in 2008.  US student performance consistently ranks in the lower quartile for developed countries.  Students often lack motivation because they don’t believe they can achieve competency and the curriculum isn’t consistently interesting or relevant.  Federal regulation and new competition have created tremendous pressure on educational institutions to increase graduation rates.

uBoost is an award winning, online rewards and recognition platform utilized to increase frequency of “target behaviors”—behaviors of our clients’ customers, students or employees that impact their bottom line.  Utilizing social tools, gaming mechanics and redeemable currency in a fully integrated online program, clients see dramatic increases in retention and test scores.

uBoost has been cash flow positive since June 2010 and clients such as Kaplan, Scientific Learning, Connections Academy and K12 Inc are showing increases in test scores and student retention from using uBoost’s platform.  The Software Industry Association recognized uBoost’s early impact on education and awarded it a prestigious CODiE award in 2009.

uBoost was designed to enhance the engagement of any content by automating frequent recognition of incremental performance.  Interest and achievement are boosted by frequent, relevant recognition thereby maximizing performance.  By employing social tools and gaming mechanics (gamification) uBoost is able to change both the level of engagement and the confidence of underperforming students. 

Business model

uBoost charges its clients for each point they award to their users for the target behaviors that drive course completion and student retention .  Users can redeem their points on thousands of items in the uBoost catalog.  Because uBoost invoices its clients at the time the award is made and not when users redeem, working capital is positively impacted at scale.  Many K-12 students redeem their uBoost points for virtual goods and sweepstakes resulting in attractive profit margins.

uBoost charges a nominal fee for setup, client-side widget, branding, single-sign on integration and customization.  For clients that are only interested in the leader board, badge, and charitable giving features, are offered a per user annual license fee option.  This option doesn't include any redemption opportunities.

Nearly $1.24 trillion will be spent on educational services in the US in 2010, representing 8.3% of GDP.  Recent regulation changes and federal pressure has put a greater emphasis on student retention and graduation rates in both secondary and post-secondary.  Higher education institutions are more focused on student retention tools as their ability to aggressively recruit unqualified students is being dramatically curtailed.  The K-12 online learning space is a $500 million market growing 30% annually.  There were 50,000 enrollments online in 2000 and over 1.5 million in 2009.

uBoost’s online engagement platform is perfectly positioned to dramatically enhance existing student retention programs and boost graduation rates.

Competitive advantage

Our client list includes Kaplan, K12 Inc, Coonnections Academy, Scientific Learning, and Mosaica amoung others.  Switching costs are high because of the point balances our clients' users have built up.  uBoost has first mover advantage and strong name recognition in the K-12 for-profit education space.