RALEIGH – Element451, a startup backed by Cary-based Cofounders Capital has six employees in the Triangle and is experiencing dramatic growth, according to Element451 CEO Ardis Kadiu, which could lead to more jobs in the region.

The company announced it has more than doubled its customer base in the last 12 months, including expanding across multiple types and sizes of universities, colleges, community colleges, and historically black colleges and universities, such as Howard University, a client of the startup.

The company’s flagship advanced student engagement CRM product uses artificial intelligence to deliver communications to potential students along the application process.  Among the company’s clients are two North Carolina community colleges, Fayetteville Technical Community College and Forsyth Technical Community College.

“Most admissions departments lack a dedicated marketing team and rely on cookie-cutter communications that net historically low student engagement rates,” said Kadiu. “If bottom-line success is going to be measured in applicant yield, enrollment melt, and, ultimately, tuition dollars, the ability to leverage AI to predict student behavior and quickly automate a personalized journey for every student becomes a crucial competitive differentiator.”

The company raised $3 million in April, with Cofounders Capital again investing in the company, with the goal of growth.

Element451 closes $3M to invest in student engagement to boost enrollment

“As a tech company, we’re always eyeing how technology can bring new opportunities to students,” said Kadiu.  “The dramatic shift to digital enrollment, learning, and student success can only benefit students if schools can harness it.”

The 2021-2022 recruitment and application process was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to analysis of the data from the Common Application, the most widely-used college application in the country with more than 900 institutions participating in its use, described in a publication on Inside HigherEd earlier this year, found that what has been reported anecdotally in admissions is occurring in the data set as well.

“The larger and more competitive colleges and universities are having a good year and getting lots of applications. But smaller and less competitive colleges are not,” wrote the story’s author Scott Jaschik.  “And first-generation students and those who lack the money to pay for an application are not applying at the same rates they used to.”

Kadiu remains is bullish about the future of college in the United States, even as the landscape is shifting.

Community colleges, in particular, seem as though they’re not rebounding the same way that 4-year colleges and universities are, said Kadiu, but the current situation is not a death knell for the current structure of college.

“The future is exciting,” said Kadiu.  “The reality is a third of our nation’s students attend community colleges, many of them partnering with local companies to deliver skill-based competency.”

“With people changing careers more often in our dynamic economy, it makes sense to have shorter, more focused programs,” said Kadiu.  

Startup focusing on college student recruiting lands $1M from Cofounders Capital

The company’s investors remain bullish, as well.

“I believe this company is going to be our next big Triangle breakout venture,” David Gardner, founder and managing partner of Cofounders Capital, told WRAL TechWire in April.