Q&A With Kaleidoscope, The Local Edutech Startup That Just Raised $650k

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Buried in the buzz of GoKart Labs’ Venture arm announcement was the fresh funding of Kaleidoscope Group, which received $650k+ to develop and grow a new scholarship management saas platform.

It is led by Minnesota tech entrepreneur Greg Dehn, who spoke with us about the milestone and his bold future plans for this nascent startup.

When and why Kaleidoscope?

As a first generation college graduate, my education was entirely made possible through scholarship funds and financial support from generous individuals and institutions.

After working in the corporate world for many years, both for profit and non profit, I became increasingly passionate about giving back in a way that I care a lot about. So about a year and a half ago I launched Kaleidoscope in what I see as an opportunity in an under-served and immature market in need of a better way of connecting students with scholarships.

We’re going to connect students with funders in a new way that matches their online experience today. A common application for scholarship information, tracking, and cost effectiveness — all driving towards better outcomes.

Do you have prior experience in the scholarship/education sector?

I worked for Scholarship America in the past, so I do understand the market, and see an opportunity to pursue a for profit company with a public mission that could provide more modern solutions.

What do you see as lacking or problematic?

First, there are many outdated and siloed solutions out there that students generally don’t love and don’t meet them where they are, social and mobile, largely. Why not start giving scholarships earlier in life, starting at six years old?

For the funding providers, it’s broken because they don’t generally gain access to the type of analytics and engagement necessary to be more effective with their outcomes.  So we’re going to address basic gaps and also create affordable access for smaller companies, who say might have their own $25,000 annual scholarship spend.

How big is the annual market size for scholarships in America?

Generally speaking, there is over $277 billion dollars per year that is given in the form of scholarships annually. About $115 of that is from private institutions and the remainder from government — state and federal. We are focused on the private scholarship market currently, which is growing at 8% per year.

We also have a model that involves directly giving back to students a portion of the money we are saving in the process since we’re a public benefit corporation our goal is to grow a business that has significant social impact and financial return.

Do you have any early customers and/or revenue?

Yes, we do have both, our first customer was signed March of this year, and we’re already advertising to over 1,500 schools across the US, of which I estimate we will onboard 20,000+ students onto the platform.

How many full time people are involved?

Two – very small right now – with support from a number of contractors.

Where are you based?

We’re a Delaware C-corporation headquartered in Minneapolis’ North Loop inside the TractorWorks Building. W

Why did you raised money?

To further develop the product from a few first customers to many more, with lots of money towards sales and marketing.  We’re B2B right now and will be cultivating a marketplace for students to match with scholarships.

Any investors you would like to mention?

Not at this time.

What’s hard about this business?

Shifting the mindset…changing the scholarship model, the foundation mentality, and the nonprofit culture.

What is the relationship like with GoKart Labs?

I met Don Smithmier through the Twin Cities tech community and pitched him/GoKart Ventures, and spent a lot of time discussing things with Scott. They are an ideal partner for us because they have the motivation and passion for disruption, especially in edtech. They are putting their skin in the game and working with us to create the best possible product experience and I am just so thrilled to be working with them in the future.

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