TechLounge: Central Ohio Technology | Entrepreneurs | Innovation
TechColumbus, along with NCT Ventures and other private investors, announced today a $500,000 investment in Acceptd LLC, developers of a Web-based prescreening tool designed to streamline the admissions process for fine arts colleges and programs.
Currently, fine arts programs rely on in-person interviews and live auditions to gauge applicants’ potential beyond written applications. Acceptd provides a Web-enabled solution that allows faculty members to pre-screen applicants via computer, smartphone or tablet. From a single dashboard, faculty can view a student’s online application, audio or video audition, headshots, social media feeds and assorted PDFs representing the applicant’s resume, portfolio or other pertinent information. Screeners can then review, rate, track applications and collaborate in real-time with all decision makers regarding the student selection process.
“It’s a highly competitive process getting into the nation’s best fine arts and theatre programs and the cost of in-person auditions, especially to a student applying to multiple schools, can be prohibitive,” said Don Hunter, president and co-founder of Acceptd. “Digital auditions level the playing field, permitting talented students who have limited time or financial resources an equal opportunity to present their talents to several programs.”
The platform further ensures schools have open access to a broader pool of applicants – including international students. This can help increase the pre-eminence and rankings of their programs based on the quality and diversity of their students and graduates.
Acceptd was co-founded by Hunter along with Derek Brown who serves as the company’s CEO. Hunter and Brown conceived of Acceptd while both were studying entrepreneurship at the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner Honors-Plus Program.
In early 2011, they brought their idea to TechColumbus who began working with them to refine their concept and firm up their business plan.
“There are certain things you cannot learn until you go through them,” said Brown. “In theory we knew what we were doing, but when you take this outside an academic setting and try to execute in the real-world, you find there are no black and white answers.”
That is where Brown says the coaching and mentoring from TechColumbus was particularly beneficial. “They asked us tough questions and forced us to get more tightly focused on our offering, our potential client base and investors. It really helped refine our direction.”
In spring of 2011, TechColumbus awarded Acceptd a $50,000 TechGenesis grant and encouraged the team to apply to the 10-xcelerator (10x) program. 10x is funded through the Ohio Third Frontier Ohio’s New Entrepreneurs (ONE) Fund and conducted through the Ohio State University Center for Entrepreneurship at the Fisher College of Business. Upon acceptance into that program, Acceptd received another $20,000 from the ONE Fund.
With a $300,000 investment from its Pre-Seed Fund, TechColumbus, leads this funding round with NCT Ventures co-investing $125,000, and three individual investors committing the remaining $75,000.
“This represents Central Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem at its best,” said Ted Ford, president and CEO of TechColumbus. “TechColumbus, the State of Ohio and 10x helped launch this company, and now the investment between TechColumbus, NCT Ventures and private investors will support the company’s critical early stage needs, while our infrastructure and coaching services, will extend the runway for this promising young venture.”
Acceptd’s software is currently deployed at Otterbein University’s Department of Theatre and Dance and at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. The company is actively pursuing partnerships with other fine arts programs.