Conversational AI Startup AdmitHub Raises $14M for Higher Ed Chatbots
Student engagement chatbot platform startup AdmitHub has closed a $14 million Series B funding round led by Rethink Education. The new financing will support AdmitHub as it expands its chatbot platform aimed at improving student enrollment and retention in higher education and changes names to Mainstay.
Boston-based AdmitHub uses AI and a knowledge base of more than four million questions on 6,000 topics to interact with potential and current students. The school can use the chatbot builder and trainer without any coding skills, sending the resulting bot into the world to email, text, and chat online with students. The point of the chatbot is to be a resource for students who are uncertain about school or wavering in their attendance plan. AdmitHub claims it reduced the “summer melt,” when high school graduates decide not to go to school over the summer, at Georgia State University by more than 30% and answered more than 80% of student questions posed with natural language. When the chatbot can’t answer a question, it tosses the query to a support team. How the human team responds gets incorporated into the knowledge base to improve the AI over time. All of the conversations are analyzed and collated to share with administrators if there are questions that the chatbot can’t answer or if the priority seems high enough to pass along.
“AdmitHub’s technology and approach exemplify the thoughtful application of AI to solve the most pressing challenges in education,” Rethink Education managing partner Matt Greenfield said. “Even amidst the turmoil of the past year, artificial intelligence has played a transformative role in institutions’ efforts to communicate quickly and effectively, in ways that improve access and retention at scale.”
AdmitHub says more than three million students have interacted with its AI since it was founded in 2014. The startup has raised a total of more than $21 million, including $7.5 million a little over a year ago. ECMC Group’s Education Impact Fund and Kresge Foundation’s impact investment fund joined the newest funding round.
The COVID-19 health crisis has played a part in accelerating interest in the kind of virtual agents and chatbots provided by AdmitHub. The surge in interest by healthcare providers ranges from Hyro’s free coronavirus-focused version of its virtual assistant to the conversational AI built by Orbita and the customized versions of Microsoft’s template that some hospitals are using. Even governments like India and the UK released chatbots on WhatsApp for answering coronavirus questions. Even chatbots not related to healthcare have seen a jump, leading to millions in funding for startups like RAIN and Rasa. As educational institutes begin to return to normal, tools like AdmitHub’s chatbots may play a key role in supporting them.
“The past year has reinforced the reality that new challenges will always be around the corner for colleges and universities,” said Drew Magliozzi, CEO of AdmitHub. “Partnering in close collaboration with schools around the country, we’re building an empathy engine for higher education that will enable institutions and their students to navigate even the biggest and most unexpected obstacles.”