Request For Startups: OpenGov for Higher Ed

TL:DR Someone out there must be building the Opengov/ERP SaaS for higher ed. Or want to start. Or pivot into the space. It’s a lucrative market for the winner, though fraught with long sales cycles, resistant administrators and archaic legacy systems. I’ll help you. Come find me!

College is expensive. Peter Thiel finds it useless. But college grads still earn on average $500k more over their lifetime than high school grads. Student loans are fast becoming the next debt crisis, with a staggering growth to over $1Trillion(with a T, take that unicorns!) and no rising wages for grads to help pay down the load.


Meanwhile, the assumption that university tuition is rising because professors are making more falls apart in the face of a growing trend of part-time professors on food stamps in place of full time professors with benefits. Technological advances mean that the costs of running a university should be lessening if Moore’s Law is to believed. So where does the money go? Why does your Alma Mater call you for donations like you’re a bona fide John Paulson?

Bloat, it turns out, is not just for periods. Do you know what a vice-chancellor does? They make up to $380k a year is what! With steadily rising wages even in the face of relatively low college graduation rates, campus rape crises and ballooning tuition in an economy with stagnant wages. What is their p&l? How do they improve the quality of academics, graduation rates and the job attainment and lifetime earnings of their grads? Why do they have phalanxes of support staff? Why are their ranks expanding 50% faster than the ranks of educators on college campuses?

NO ONE KNOWS! Pretty much every university in America receives Federal and state funding and tax exempt status with public ones depending on it for survival and yet they have zero transparency or accountability about where the hundreds of billions of dollars go. One of the more ‘transparent’ universities, and a bastion for progressive public higher ed the world over, UC Berkeley does have an entire site and pdfs devoted to their budgets but spending is covered in 2 lines: ‘Compensation’ and ‘Non-compensation’. They do, however, have a great visual of students eating sandwiches on page 10 of their annual budget plan if you’d like to take a look. Really.

In business, we have enterprise resource planning(ERP), we have line items and budgets and deliverables and pay for performance and the ever orgastic ‘big data’ to collect innumerable points of information and neatly serve it up to us as slice and dice-able. Consumers can log on to or fire up Healthkit and get a clear picture of their spending or health. Even government got on board with adoption of Opengov and the actually pretty beautiful What gets measured gets managed says my buddy Peter Drucker and with the current Hyperloop of debt creation in this country is operating in the blackest of black boxes, it is doubtful much of anything is being measured, much less managed.

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