Interview with Jeet Banerjee (StatFuse)
StatFuse is a free web application that allows high school graduates to get information about US colleges and also calculate their chances of getting into particular colleges.
I interviewed Jeet Banerjee, StatFuse co-founder to find out more. This interview is the hundred and eleventh in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Jeet for the interview!
How would you describe StatFuse in under 50 words?
StatFuse makes college easy for everyone. It’s a free web application that allows students to calculate their chances of getting into college, finding college recommendations, gathering information about colleges, organizing and planing their college applications, and much more!
Describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m a 19 year old serial entrepreneur and technology expert looking to change the world one solution at a time.
Why did you startup?
I obtained a job working under my father as an assistant around the age of 15 and I immediately hated that job. I guess I am one of those people that hate being told what to do and I started looking for ways I could be my own boss without compromising the money I was making. I did some research and came up with some ideas for companies and then took it from there.
Where did the idea for StatFuse originate?
It was around the time for students to apply to college and my partner and I were discussing what colleges we were going to go to. It was painful applying to colleges and waiting 3-4 months before hearing back, so we began to look for websites that gave you your chances of getting in before applying. After looking through many websites, we could not find one that did the job so we began creating our own website for it.
How does StatFuse help find high school graduates the right college?
StatFuse is great for students who aren’t too sure of what college they want to attend. They can find recommendations to colleges based on their personality, choice of major, or even their academics through high school. It pinpoints students to the colleges that fit their needs and it also gives students a complete lowdown of what each college has to offer.
How did you promote StatFuse?
Unfortunately when we launched, we did not have any money we could use on marketing. Instead of just letting our website rot while we tried to obtain funding, we decided to use another approach. We took our promotion to the social networks and found a massive response from high school students. We were also extremely lucky to be picked up by a high school television station “Channel One News”, which did a segment about our website.
What sort of user feedback has StatFuse received since launch?
Honestly, the students who have had the opportunity to use our product loved it. Some of my friends came up and thanked me for creating this website because they felt less anxious while waiting for their college decisions and that really put a smile on my face. Students love the website and are using it in high numbers so I guess the feedback has been fairly strong to date.
What technologies have you used to build StatFuse?
We have a strict algorithm that was developed by my partner & I which run the calculations for the college admissions calculator and the college recommendations. The rest of the website and the design/development for it was done by a web development company in exchange for equity in the company.
How long did it take to put together StatFuse?
StatFuse was an extremely data intensive project so it did take us a pretty long time to get things running. We started working on the project from September 2011 and we had officially launched the project to the public on February 2012. During that whole time, my partner & I rarely had any days off and we dedicated as much time as possible to getting StatFuse off the ground.
Do you have any investors in StatFuse?
Officially we do not have an investment for the company yet, but we have reached a verbal agreement with an investor who should be getting the process going fairly soon.
You were started JB Media Force when you were in high school student. How did you manage your time?
It was fairly difficult balancing my act between school and work. Prioritizing my work and ensuring that I never procrastinated anything really helped me become more efficient and be able to accomplish both things simultaneously.
Where do you see StatFuse in 5 years time?
We are hoping that StatFuse can be the central website that students all over the nation use when transitioning from high school to college. We are also looking to expand the idea into the college world so that transfer students can also utilize our tools. We surely hope to have a much larger user base then we have right now and hopefully we can become one of the biggest websites in the educational world.
How do you balance studying and growing a startup?
It is definitely difficult at times to find the right balance between the two. I usually end up spending more time on my startup and less time on studying, which isn’t always the best thing to do. I think the best way I manage my time is by prioritizing my tasks.
For example, if I have to send a proposal tonight but have a math test tomorrow morning, I will do the proposal first and then study for my math test. This way I am doing what must be done first before focusing on my next task, which helps me stay on track.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced so far or are still facing?
One of the biggest hurdles that I have faced so far is getting people to take me seriously. Being as young as I am, not many people value my opinion right away and begin to doubt me. Finding a way to get people to look past my age and judge me based on my actions and accomplishments has always been a hurdle.
What one piece of advice would you give to other young startup founders?
The one piece of advice I would give to any other young budding startup founders is to keep trying until they fail. The great part of entrepreneurship is that you can fail hundreds of times, you only have to be successful once. For any young entrepreneurs trying to make their dreams come true, I would tell them to go for it and to never give up.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
This is a tough question because I’m excited about so many things. I guess the biggest thing that is exciting me at this moment is the prospect of having an investment locked in for StatFuse so we can really begin marketing the product hard before the students begin to apply to college.
Well I’m currently in the process of developing two more startup companies, both of which should be launched by the end of this summer. I am extremely excited about both of these startups as I think they both have a lot of potential.
For the future, I am not too sure what’s next for me. My goal is to definitely to continue studying and growing my startup companies. Other than that, I am not too sure what’s next for me.
Can you convince the reader to start using StatFuse in under 50 words?
If you are getting ready to attend college or just want some information about colleges, StatFuse is a necessity. The great thing about StatFuse is that it is completely free and you have nothing to lose by using this product.
Finished reading? Check out StatFuse!