Behavioral Science Startup Secures $3.4 Million in Series A Financing to Support Student Engagement and Retention

Motimatic, a mission-driven startup that pairs behavioral science with leading-edge advertising techniques to deliver motivational content to college students, today announced that it has secured $3.4 million in Series A funding, led by two of the nation’s leading education-focused venture capital firms, University Ventures and New Markets Venture Partners.

With college graduation rates at less than 55 percent, colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to improve student persistence and completion. Motimatic’s technology applies theories of behavior change currently used in commercial advertising and social impact campaigns to increase engagement and improve student outcomes.

Inspired by decades of experience in education and online advertising, as well as recent research on motivation and persuasion, Motimatic delivers behavioral science-based messages to students through the social media and digital communications networks they already use, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, as well as through SMS and email. The messages, designed to encourage students to persist and engage in their coursework, appear in place of the online advertising that students would normally encounter on social media sites.

In the past few months, Motimatic has experienced significant growth. The first major study of Motimatic’s impact, completed last fall with a group of 3,318 online students, found that the number of students who persisted in their studies after one year was 9% greater in the Motimatic group than in a comparison group that did not receive Motimatic messages.

“Colleges and universities are grappling with the challenge of keeping pace with students’ shifting digital engagement and consumption habits,” said Alan Tripp, co-founder and CEO of Motimatic. “Motimatic’s system streamlines this process, enabling higher ed institutions to reach students through the familiar channels they are already using.”

Motimatic’s turnkey system optimizes the distribution of motivational messages to specific students, drawing upon a library of more than 1,000 messages. The system personalizes the experience of each student based on academic and demographic characteristics to provide the type of targeted encouragement that has the greatest likelihood of impacting persistence and completion.

The funding round was led by University Ventures and New Markets Venture Partners, with additional participation from GSV, the Jefferson Education Accelerator, and Mike McCaffery, former CEO of the Stanford Management Corporation, which oversees the endowment at Stanford University.

“Motimatic’s approach is unique in that it is both rooted in groundbreaking behavioral science and tailored to the digital culture of today’s students,” said Troy Williams, Managing Director of University Ventures. “Unlike many other services that are trying to solve the student retention and persistence problem, Motimatic requires no new staff or staff time on the part of universities. It’s truly turnkey and delivers results. We are excited to join them in their efforts to provide students with much-needed outof-class support.”

“As post-traditional students become the ’new normal’ in higher education, these students face increasing financial, family and workforce demands, putting them at much higher risk of disengaging or dropping out. In order to respond, colleges and universities must look for innovative, evidence-based approaches to encourage and support students where they are,” said Jason Palmer, General Partner at New Markets Venture Partners, who previously led the postsecondary innovation portfolio at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Motimatic and its university partners have developed a pioneering system to engage this new generation of students and improve their likelihood of graduating.”

About Motimatic

Motimatic is an automatic motivation system for educational institutions seeking to improve student retention and completion. Our technology blends the latest advances in advertising technology and behavioral science to deliver motivating messages to students in place of commercial messages that they’d typically encounter on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as SMS and email. Nearly half of students who begin college never finish. Working with a wide range of educational institutions, Motimatic has the potential to increase student retention by more than 9% over the course of a year. Setting Motimatic up requires no new systems, and students do not have to “like”, “follow” or download anything to receive messages. Motimatic is backed by leading venture capital firms, including University Ventures and New Markets Venture Partners.

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