Maine Venture Fund proudly announces the addition of education technology pioneer Nearpeer to our portfolio of ambitious Maine companies. Nearpeer partners with colleges and universities nationally to increase enrollment.  

“Simply put, students who are more engaged with college peers feel a stronger commitment to showing up for – and completing – college. Nearpeer is a catalyst for this important peer engagement, starting with incoming students,” said Dustin Manocha, Nearpeer’s Founder and CEO.

Nearpeer is a SaaS company founded in 2016, and is built on a proprietary student platform that includes mobile apps and peer matching algorithms. The platform is a catalyst for matching and connecting students who have things in common – interests, sports, major, hometown, life experience (are they are veteran, parent, transfer student, etc.), and more. 

“It may seem today’s Gen Z college students are too connected; however, they are actually the loneliest generation.  That’s why Nearpeer is so important. Our student platform is the single best way for students of all ages to find peers they have things in common with. This shared context reduces the fear of awkwardness or rejection in reaching out to someone they don’t already know, which is even more challenging for introverted students.  With Nearpeer, students feel a greater sense of belonging and inclusion.” said Mr. Manocha.

With Nearpeer, users are over six times more likely to enroll versus non-users, which helps colleges that are under revenue pressure from today’s widespread enrollment challenges. Beyond the more recent impacts of COVID-19 across the education market, the urgency to increase enrollment is driven by wider demographic changes. This includes a decline in the number of college-age students in the US, and especially in the northeast. Nearpeer has set out to address that problem for the nearly 4,000 colleges and 20 million college students in the US.

Nearpeer is operated by seasoned executives with global operating experience, including Dustin Manocha, Founder & CEO, previously VP-Strategic Initiatives at Civitas Learning, Inc. (Austin, TX), and VP/Global Leader at Bazaarvoice, Inc. which IPO’d in 2012.  Nearpeer’s COO Christopher Quinn was previously VP International Online and U.S. Campus for Purdue University – Global / Kaplan Higher Ed, President of Kaplan University–Maine and President, Andover College (Portland, Lewiston, and Augusta, ME).

Based in Portland, ME, Nearpeer has earned the confidence of not only Maine Venture Fund, but also investors including Maine Technology Institute (MTI), Bangor Angel Fund (BAF), Boston Harbor Angels, Launchpad, others. Nearpeer has been recognized nationally as a finalist for the 2020 GSV Cup competition for companies who “bend the arc of human potential” (finals slated for August 2020) and in Maine as recipient of the 2019 “MTI Innovation Award.”

Nearpeer has already established a firm footing across the US with universities such as Louisiana State University (LSU), and here in Maine at Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC) and University of Maine. According to Dr. Lisa Larson, President, Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC):

 “Nearpeer has been instrumental in helping EMCC meet our enrollment growth goals during the 2019-2020 academic year and is integral to our comprehensive student retention plan.”

 In 2019, Nearpeer cemented a partnership with Ruffalo Noel Levitz (“RNL”), the top enrollment management consulting firm with ~1,000 college/university clients. Nearpeer and RNL work closely together to offer Nearpeer’s solution alongside RNL’s wide array of products and services through a channel that universities already know and trust. Critically, this partnership offers Nearpeer a built-in, talented sales force that engages with potential Nearpeer customers on a daily basis.

With a national distribution partner in RNL, several enthusiastic university clients, measurable results, and thousands of engaged students currently using the platform, Nearpeer is poised for high growth in Maine and beyond and significant public benefit. Welcome to the Nearpeer team – we look forward to supporting you along your journey!

 Visit Nearpeer online to learn more.

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