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College Raptor is helping students make smart, affordable college choices

For five years now, College Raptor has been helping students make informed decisions about which college to attend.

Launched in 2014, the Iowa City-based company works with hundreds of colleges and universities across the country, running the lists of prospect names through the company’s algorithm and identifying those most likely to be interested in their institution and most likely to apply.

“We’re helping colleges figure out how to communicate their affordability to families and helping families make more informed decisions,” said William Staib, co-founder and CEO of College Raptor.

The website uses information students provide about their families’ financial situations, school location preferences, likely majors and academic achievement, as well as public information and data from colleges, to create customized lists of college options for students and their families. It provides costs for every college in the country, and is the only platform that customizes those results to each student’s academic performance and family financial situation. 

Additionally, the site offers information about students’ likelihood of acceptance and how closely schools match their preferences when it comes to location and other factors.

Staib says he was inspired to start the website by watching his children go through the college selection process.

Today, the company is working with more than 150 colleges in 35 different states.

“Our website attracts about 6 million visitors per year,” said Staib. “And that number has grown 180% in the last year. “We’re a fairly large site here in Iowa and have a pretty good national presence of students, parents and others that use CollegeRaptor. We’re not just going quickly but growing well.”

Next month, College Raptor will be releasing its annual rankings of colleges. College Raptor’s rankings highlight the best schools in the country based on multiple factors including graduation rates, diversity, endowment per student,  and other key factors.

The rankings include lists such as the Top 50 Best Colleges in the US, the Top 25 Best Colleges in the Northeast, the Top 25 Best Small Colleges and the Top 25 Best Colleges with the Highest Graduation Rate.

College Raptor is helping students make smart, affordable college choices | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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