December 4, 2022

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AI-powered student engagement platform provider Ocelot raises $117M in funding

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Education technology communications and student engagement platform Ocelot announced today that it has raised $117 million in funding from software-focused investment firm K1 Investment Management.

The round is notable because it is the first time the company has secured external funding after previously being a startup.

Ocelot, a service of CareerAmerica LLC, has created a unified engagement platform that integrates with existing technology platforms to provide universities and other educational institutions. They can provide more seamless communication for their students and help ensure that their needs and wants are met.

Ocelot believes such a solution is in demand as the higher education industry faces significant headwinds from student retention challenges. It says a lack of engagement and communication is a big factor in this, citing both students and universities.

A lack of engagement often has a significant impact on the college experience of students, especially those in their first year of study. Ocelot cites research by EAB Global Inc. that shows 33 percent of first-generation students drop out of college within three years of starting, compared to a dropout rate of just 14 percent for those who make it through the first year.

Ocelot says that by providing the technology infrastructure that universities need to enable greater engagement and communications, it can have a significant impact on student satisfaction, reducing student attrition rates and improving the overall college experience.

The company’s comprehensive communications platform includes two-way text campaigns that enable institutions to proactively reach and engage prospective and current students, as well as alumni. It also provides an AI-based chatbot service for universities to address common student questions, in addition to live chat functionality for queries that need more personal responses. In addition, Ocelot provides students with virtual access to a student counseling center, providing them with help and solutions to their problems at their fingertips.

Analyst Holger Müller of Constellation Research Inc. said that higher education providers have traditionally been underserved by enterprise software vendors because of their often very specific requirements and the unusual licensing requirements for students. As a result, technology providers are less motivated to focus on serving educational institutions as well as they could, the analyst said, creating an opportunity for startups like Ocelot.

“The neglect of industry means that higher education is often forced to use suboptimal and outdated platforms,” ​​Muller said. “While much progress has been made in areas such as customer and employee engagement, the same cannot be said for student engagement, which has been neglected. So it’s great to see Ocelot getting a big round of funding like this, potentially enabling it to change the landscape and help deliver better outcomes in education.”

Ocelot’s platform has proven to be a hit, with the company serving more than 500 universities in 47 US states. Over the past 12 months, Ocelot says it has answered more than 12 million questions from students, demonstrating the need for an engagement platform.

Ocelot CEO Talin Andonians said his company’s mission is to make a better life more accessible for students and to solve pain points for higher education institutions.

“Colleges and universities compete with so many other daily distractions to capture students’ attention and encourage their engagement to meet enrollment and graduation goals,” Andonians said. “Ocelot was created as a one-stop platform for higher education institutions to ease communication barriers. The investment from K1 will allow us to continue to bridge the communication gaps between schools and their most important clientele – their students.”

Photo: StockSnap

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