Do It Abroad is a member of the first cohort of LearnSpace, an accelerator that provides promising European edtech startups with access to researchers, educators, and business experts who help them to refine paths to scale.
Do It Abroad began in February, 2017 with one mission: to make study abroad accessible for all. They do this by applying an easy three-step methodology to help students of all backgrounds with every step of the often-complicated process of applying to foreign universities.
- First, they help students to understand important factors to consider when looking for degree programs by guiding them through the process of building an applicant profile. 👩💻
- Second, they identify degree programs that meet a student’s criteria, be they subject, location, number of students, cost, personality, etc. within a database of 150,000 degrees at 1,500 universities in 92 countries. 😳
- Third, they help students to fill the application to whichever universities they wish to apply. 🎓
One of the most interesting aspects to Do It Abroad’s work is how they circumvent traditional application requirements that often function as a barrier to studying abroad. Take the TOEFL, for example. In order to take the exam, students from the French countryside need to register months in advance, then travel for hours to reach a test center, pay hundreds of euros, and, if they do not perform well, to wait several more months before there is an opening to take the exam again. It is a hassle, to say the least. However, Do It Abroad will work with universities to find alternative ways to validate a student’s English-speaking ability. They propose to universities free, online tools that assess English ability and ask if the unis feel comfortable using these tools to validate students’ English-speaking abilities.
When they find a tool that works for a university, they simply tell students who wish to apply to that university that they don’t need TOEFL, they just need to show sufficient ability using a tool that is easily accessible regardless of geographic location. Such is Do It Abroad’s confidence in the validity of such alternative measures that they are willing to organize pilots with universities in order to assuage institutional concerns. “We say to universities: give us one year, even one semester, and then tell us if you are unhappy with these students,” says Marie Blaise, Founder and CEO of the company.
Users and Partners
Do It Abroad constantly visits high schools, though, perhaps counterintuitively, the main purpose of these visits is not to access students. That they can do more easily through Google, Facebook, and other digital channels. Instead, high school visits are for talking to administrators, teachers, career counselors in order to validate the need that they aim to serve. “In France, reputation is everything for a company who is working with schools. If teachers like what you do, you win. But if they do not, you’re done,” says Marie Blaise, Founder and CEO of the company.
Do It Abroad also work closely with universities to develop streamlined application processes. As in the TOEFL example above, the aim is to accomplish the dual goals of reducing barriers to application for students and reassuring institutions of applicant quality. “Our value to universities is simple: we bring you students who have the ability to contribute while adding a different, diverse perspective to your classes,” says Blaise.
Meet the Team
Every member of the team has a personal connection to travel and a passion for making travel easier for students.
Growing up in France, Founder/CEO Marie Blaise never quite felt a full kinship with peers until she went to Australia to pursue her undergraduate education. In her time Down Under, she saw how university life provided a unique opportunity to mix, engage, and learn about the world from a variety of cultural perspectives. In the process, she learned more about the cultural norms and beliefs that formed her and developed both a capacity to adapt and a broader, more tolerant perspective of the world. It is for these reasons that Marie was motivated to start Do It Abroad.
Along the way joined Adeline, a lawyer by training who had met Marie in Sydney and has a particular passion for helping students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to transcend obstacles to studying abroad. Then joined Perrine, a business developer who was set to go abroad until someone convinced her that she did not have the ability to do so, and who wants to ensure that the same does not happen to others.And, finally, we have Quentin, the developer and software wizard behind the platform, also felt a lack of support in his ambitions to study abroad in China and is inspired to dispel fearful myths about studying abroad.
Priorities and Next Steps
Currently, Do It Abroad is only working with students from French high schools. However, it plans to be available to students throughout Europe in five years. In the meanwhile, the immediate focus is on building a stronger and more robust product. Specifically, this entails developing an algorithm to match students and universities, not just based on university criteria like location, degree, and cost, but also based on information about a student’s personality. They are also working to automate the process of helping students with university admissions processes. While Do It Abroad is open to raising funds, it is not an immediate priority as the company is generating enough revenue to support its growth organically.
To learn more about Do It Abroad, visit their website. You can also contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The Team section of this article was updated on July 20th to reflect changes. #Startups