How did Pulse start?
After a campus-wide protest at Dartmouth College in the Winter of 2015, the Dartmouth campus felt utterly divided. Students sought to make sense of what had taken place, what they believed, and whether their opinions aligned with those of the larger community. With no reliable opinion platform available, administrators and students alike were forced to speculate or turn to polarizing opinion platforms, such as Yik Yak, to assess the campus climate. Inspired by these events, our founders, Terren and Robin, set out to create a student-centered opinion platform to fill this informational void.
What is Pulse all about?
Pulse is a community-based survey platform designed to help organizations collect and understand the opinions of their constituents. Beginning with universities, like Dartmouth College, we have attracted an active user base of 90% of the student body and achieved an average response rate 5X higher than competitor platforms in just 16 weeks. By the start of the 2017-18 school year, we expect to be on the campuses of every Ivy League university, as well as several private high schools. In the long run, we plan to expand to any organization that struggles to understand the opinions of their constituents, including large corporations and local governments.
For universities, the mechanism for understanding student sentiment is fundamentally broken, leaving administrators with insufficient data to make informed decisions and students feeling frustrated and without a voice. Campus surveys–the traditional method for measuring student opinions–are plagued with increasingly low response rates and high costs. The same national university health survey that received a 70% response rate in 1996 had a 28% response rate this past year. Additionally, even for a school as small as Dartmouth, just one of these campus-wide surveys can cost up to $85,000, with roughly 60% of the cost in survey software software and 40% in survey incentives.
We offer a survey solution that is engaging for the student, representative of the community, and affordable for the organization. We maintain high levels of engagement by incentivizing students with interactive results and our built-in reward system. After completing a survey, a student may view, interact with, and even deliberate over the results with their peers. Additionally, students are compensated with Pulse points, which are exchangeable for gift cards to local and national businesses. These rewards are a form of free advertising for our partners, and in some cases are in the form of paid advertising, resulting in an additional source of revenue for the company.
What does the 100k investment from the Millworks Fund II mean for Pulse?
Seeing as we’ve only spent a total of $6,000 since Pulse’s inception, the $100,000 from the Millworks II fund is a complete game changer for us. While we are still in the process of fundraising, our existing resources will be allocated to hiring full-time developers and paying our student developers so they can commit more time. It’s really a testament to the caliber of student talent at Dartmouth that we’ve been able to build what we have so far with no outside help and with each member of the team taking classes. However, now with the funding and my pending graduation, we are in a perfect position to take Pulse to the next level.
Our top priority is preparing the platform for scale so we can fulfill the multiple requests we’ve received from high schools and universities to use the platform. By the start of the 2017-18 school year, we expect to be on the campuses of several NH high schools as well as every member of the Ivy League, which would allow universities to benchmark student opinions against peer institutions.
In the longer run, it is our mission to help any type of organization that struggles to understand the opinions of their constituents, including large corporations, and even local and national governments.