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AdmitPad raises first round of funding from Greylock, to sell software to college admissions departments

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 11, 2011 09:15 AM

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Investors are putting several million dollars into a Cambridge start-up, AdmitPad, that had initially built an iPad app to help MIT admissions officers review student applications. The company's app was featured in the Wall Street Journal back in January, but AdmitPad didn't get mentioned by name.

With roughly $3 million in new funds from Greylock Partners and a west coast firm, I expect AdmitPad will broaden its focus, making a play to get involved in a bigger portion of the admissions process, from helping students assemble their applications to communicating with them once they've been accepted. (Several local investors who looked at the deal tell me they had concerns about the size of AdmitPad's initial market.) AdmitPad CEO Stephen Marcus wouldn't comment, beyond saying that the company will be announcing its funding, new customers, and a new name later this month.

AdmitPad's app lets admissions staffers manage the applications they're responsible for, assigning scores, highlighting parts of essays, and summarizing their thoughts. It can be used with or without Internet access, and it syncs with a university's existing systems for handling applicants.

Before starting AdmitPad, Marcus had spent three years as a venture partner at Cambridge-based New Atlantic Ventures. Scott Johnson of New Atlantic says of Marcus, "He's a proven entrepreneur, he's high energy, and he's great to work with. He's somebody who any of us would be thrilled to back." Despite that, New Atlantic wasn't an investor in AdmitPad's first round.

Another local VC who looked at the deal, but passed, said that Marcus was able to raise money "based on his track record and the quality of the product they've built, which is pretty slick." Earlier in his career, Marcus built and sold several companies in the wireless communications industry. He's also an investor in Okta (identity management) and Trefis (stock market research.)

The South Carolina-based design firm Squared Eye handled the information architecture and user interface for AdmitPad's app, and Squared Eye founder Matthew Smith told me that Marcus had tried to hire the design team and import them to Cambridge. But Smith and his crew decided to remain in South Carolina, where they now work for the local commerce start-up Zaarly.

Bill Kaiser of Greylock Partners wouldn't comment on AdmitPad's funding beyond confirming Greylock's involvement.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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