Education Technology Company Empowerly Secures $1.6 Million

By Noah Long ● October 7, 2020
  • Empowerly — a data-driven education technology startup for college admissions — announced it has raised $1.6 million

Empowerly — a data-driven education technology startup for college admissions — announced it has raised $1.6 million from TransLink Capital, Scrum Ventures, Azure Capital Partners, and Spero Ventures as well as angel investors Yun-Fang Juan (a founding engineer of Facebook Ads) and Russ Holdstein (the first investor in StubHub and Zillow). This funding round will be used to expand service offerings and round out the team to drive growth and operational efficiencies.

The company’s platform is aiming to democratize college admissions with a combination of online data-driven algorithms and personalized services from college counselors and mentors, having helped thousands of students. Founded in 2018, Empowerly’s platform includes counselors and mock admissions committee reviews, opportunities to intern at Silicon Valley startups, and virtual extracurriculars as well as the new Empowerly Score.

The company’s new scoring system called Empowerly Score is now officially available to the Empowerly community and incorporated into the platform. And using predictive machine learning models, the Empowerly Score measures and monitors a three-pronged evaluation of academics, extracurriculars, and written essays. The Empowerly Score determines the impact of every key factor included in an individual’s college application to assess applicant competitiveness for top U.S. colleges.

This tool is the only such predictor that can also quantify subjective material like student essays and extracurricular activities so students have a holistic view of how best to set themselves apart from other applicants. And developed in conjunction with former admissions officers, the Empowerly Score has been tested with students and benchmarked against years of admitted student data.

In order to compute the Empowerly Score, students input their extracurriculars (sports, community service, etc.), achievements (awards, leadership, etc.), academics, essays, etc. And each of these inputs is weighted by the tool on value and importance to come up with a single score that provides student’s specific strengths and areas for improvement. Each of the top 75 U.S. universities (with more colleges being added) has a goal score associated with its admissions difficulty level and a student compares her Empowerly Score to the goal score to determine application competitiveness.

A detailed report will be generated and Empowerly counselors will use the Empowerly Score and analysis to tackle students’ specific pain points like building their extracurricular stories, creating their best-fit college list, or writing their unique college essays. And early users have been enthusiastic about the information and how it can level the playing field in college admissions by providing valuable analysis of how students measure up against their top college choices.

Along with assessing applicant competitiveness, the Empowerly platform also incorporates predictive algorithms to match students with their best-fit counselors from an extensive network of seasoned and “millennial” counselors. To date, 95% of Empowerly students have gained admission to a top 50 US college and 94 percent to one of their top three college choices.


“Getting into college keeps getting more and more challenging, and during the pandemic, many test scores have been waived. That means for high school students, getting into the college of their choice is even harder and the application process is more difficult. Our new Empowerly Score provides students with actionable insights so they can make appropriate changes in real time to improve their chances of college admission. It can be a huge help to students.”

“I founded Empowerly to provide more affordable and personalized services versus traditional college counseling agencies. It’s something I desperately wished existed since I was 15. And as I applied to dozens of schools and jobs over the last decade, I was stressed and found it challenging to find the right people for the right advice. With a 400:1 student-to-counselor ratio at schools, I know many people had that same experience.”

— Hanmei Wu, CEO and Co-founder, Empowerly