How College Factual Began
Bill Phelan and Josh McWilliam had been working together building Internet startups for over a decade. During this time Josh was in a on again off again relationship with higher education. After switching colleges, changing majors many times, and racking up over $100k in debt, Josh completed his undergraduate degree in late 2011, a short 13 years after enrolling as a naive freshman at his first college choice. Looking back on this saga, Josh, a relatively intelligent person otherwise, couldn't help but marvel at some of the incredibly dumb decisions he made about his education.
Bill meanwhile was marveling at something himself, the prospect of big data, and the growing number of cost effective tools becoming available to startups like ours to leverage it. With their current company having reached a plateau in its growth prospects, Bill was in the hunt for the next breakthrough for the business. He identified education and healthcare to be two areas where data was abundant, and people had great difficulty making decisions. Having recently experienced sending two kids to college himself, education was an area that held personal significance for him.
Additional research clearly showed both Bill and Josh that they weren't the only ones that had struggled to make the best college selection decisions. As much as America may be the world leader in higher education, the college outcome statistics are horrifying.
Both looked at the problems faced by higher education and couldn't help but wonder how much better the world would be if students who wanted to learn were supported in their quest rather than getting overwhelmed by the options and drowned in debt. What would happen if every student, young or old, better understood their unique strengths and could identify an affordable path to amplify those strengths through a quality education?
With backgrounds in scalable online publishing, online marketplaces and behavioral science, their unique experience gave them both a perspective to the problem very different than that of most industry insiders. Armed with this perspective and a world-class team already in place from their prior venture, a plan was hatched to disrupt higher education for the betterment of students, educators, and the world.
And so, College Factual was born.