Student-Run Campus Insights Gets Acquired

Harvard Student Agencies acquires student-run Campus Insights.

“We’ve come a long ways since Stephen and I were running around college campuses with used video cameras we bought on eBay three years ago.”

What you’ll hear with most student-founded startups is that their beginnings tend to be a lot more humble and scrappy than most. With the Campus Insights team, this could not be more true.

After 3 years of helping clients like Airbnb, Chegg, and Venmo gather market research on their millennial audiences, Campus Insights CEO and former Dorm Room Fund Managing Partner Riley Soward has announced their acquisition today by Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), the largest student-run company in the world.

Raised in Silicon Valley, the two brothers — Riley & Stephen Soward—saw conducting user interviews as a way to amplify their passion for sharing feedback on apps and websites. In 2014, they bought two video cameras on eBay and went around college campuses filming students’ reactions to various products. The brothers’ research quickly gained the attention of startups, and since then, they have:

  1. Grown their revenues 100% year-over-year (YoY) for the past 3 years.
  2. Scaled their team to 6 student researchers from Boston College, University of Michigan, and Cornell University.
  3. Garnered respect in their industry, emerging as a leader in millennial market research with a client list that includes some of the largest millennial-focused brands in the country — including VSCO, Venmo, GoFundMe, and Chegg.

What set Campus Insights apart from most market-research platforms over the last few years was the genuine honesty that participants were willing to give to college students.

“We started Campus Insights because we knew high school students, college students, and recent grads would be most comfortable and candid when being interviewed by a researcher in their age group”

This was a significant signaling factor that contributed to HSA’s interest in acquiring the company, as HSA President Ali Dastjerdi mentioned they were “drawn to Campus Insights’ unique research method for capturing genuinely honest feedback from consumers and to the amount of inbound interest they receive for their services.”

The team will be looking for more ways to expand Campus Insights through HSA’s expanded reach and by exploring more scalable processes through potential collaborations with DEV, HSA’s software engineering arm.

Moving forward, Harvard student James Swingos will take over as CEO, while Riley and Stephen will stay actively involved as advisors.

Congrats to all that were involved and helped scale the company, including Riley & Stephen’s team members Ameet Kallarackal, Amy Eastment, Irene Kim, Kelsey Bishop, and Rachel Goffin.

Dorm Room Fund is dedicated to supporting student founders across the country and helping them reach new heights — Check out our 5 year report to learn more about what students are capable of building.

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