Brian discusses a gigantic white space in continuing education that colleges and universities have left open. Modern Campus is trying to address this gap, among other things. Very interesting conversation.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to Modern Campus.
Brian Kibby: I’ve been in the education space for over 30 years. About 80% of my career was with two of the largest education platforms in the world – Pearson and McGraw-Hill. Now I run Modern Campus where we focus on the learner-to-earner ethos. We are building a giant student engagement platform.
Sramana Mitra: Double-click down and talk about what is specific about what you’re doing.
Brian Kibby: I’ve worked for a private equity firm called Riverside. Riverside said, “Higher education is going through a massive transformation. Where are the areas of growth, and how can we help?” Several years ago, they looked at the market and said, “The area that’s growing is continuing education.” Many, if not most, highest education institutions have a school of continuing education. We are all familiar with the degree side of the house.
We scoured the world for a world-class continuing education (CE) platform that helps to remove the friction from the buying experience. For learners, how do we make sure that we create a Netflix-like end-to-end buying experience. They found a company called Destiny out of Toronto. We bought them three years ago. We built around them. They have some of the largest and well-known universities in the world.
Then they said, “How can we help further?” Then we bought a company called OmniUpdate, which is a content management system out of California. The entry point to any university is the website. Our CMS platform powers the content producers for universities in United States and Canada. We integrated the company and rebranded to Modern Campus in March of this year.
We recently went back and said, “How can we help further?” We looked for an online catalog and curriculum company. We found that out of Tampa. We acquired them last month. Then we bought a company called Presents, which is a student engagement platform which allows learners to find places of interest in a college or university.
We know that when students engage in a campus, they’re more likely to graduate. We bought four companies over the last three years. One of the biggest problems we know in the United States is student debt. Student debt per capita is more in the UK than it is in the US. So that’s $120 trillion in student debt. A significant number are underemployed even six years after graduation.
Sramana Mitra: You’re basically doing roll up in partnership with Riverside in continuing education technology.
Brian Kibby: It’s not just in CE. That’s where we started the journey, but we work across colleges and universities now.