Quero Education is a marketplace for Brazilian college programs. They help students search, compare, prepare, and enroll in private colleges. We sat down with Bernardo de Pádua and Lucas Gomes to talk about how they’re getting more students into colleges.
What YC Likes About Quero Education:
Quero has built a critical piece of the higher-ed ecosystem in Brazil. They allow students to find and compare college programs that meet their financial and scheduling needs. Students can call Quero for advice, as well. Their rapid growth is a testament to how well they are meeting the needs of their customers."Tim Brady, Partner, Y Combinator
YC : Where did the idea for Quero Education come from?
Bernardo: When I was in college I read a lot of Paul Graham’s essays and they inspired me to become an entrepreneur right out of college. Quero started off as a tool to connect schools with alumni but we quickly realized that schools were much more concerned about finding tools to help them grow. Brazil’s education landscape is very competitive because there’s more supply than demand. There are about 6 million open seats but only 3 million students enrolling every year. That means colleges have to find ways to differentiate themselves to get more students. We realized that we needed to build something that connected potential students with colleges.
YC : Can you talk about the educational landscape in Brazil?
Bernardo: Brazil has about 200 million inhabitants but only 14% of the adult population is college educated. Historically this is because public colleges were free to attend but highly competitive. The Brazilian government deregulated higher education in the 90s, allowing for-profit institutions to invest in creating and expanding universities. Capacity growth was further encouraged by a subsidized student loan program that peaked in 2014. Today, 83% of new enrollments are into private institutions.
When the recession hit the funding for the program was heavily reduced, which meant that students could no longer afford to pay for school. As a result, these colleges ended up with excess capacity and now have to compete with each other in order to get more students.
YC : So how does Quero Education work?
Lucas: It works like Expedia. You basically enter how much you can pay per month, desired location, and what you want to study. We’ll then show them college programs that seem like a good fit. From there, they can sort and compare programs before deciding on which one to apply for. We use evaluations conducted by the Ministry of Education every year so there’s no bias. When the student decides, they pay the first month's tuition and that guarantees their seat and price. Then they go through the admission process and pay tuition each month.
We work with colleges to set up group discounts for people that enroll through our program. We’ve always been on the side of the student so we built a team of educational counselors who help prospective students decide which school best fits the student’s needs. Through this method we’ve actually been able to get students up to 80% off of the tuition price. The average discount is 20% to 30% off the normal tuition price.
YC : Wow, that’s crazy that you can get 80% off tuition.
Bernardo: Yeah, this market is sort of like buying an airplane ticket. It’s not a fixed price and some schools are willing to give very aggressive discounts to fill their seats. A lot of students thank us because we’ve made college affordable for them. Our counselors often get cakes from mothers or invites to their family dinners.
YC : How did students compare colleges before?
Lucas: Very manually. They would have to go onto the website and do research on each one individually. The tricky part is that the price they list is not the actual price they’re going to pay. Sometimes it doesn’t include financial aid or there’s a lot of information missing. It’s just very difficult for students to compare colleges and there hasn’t been a source to do that in one place until now.
YC : What’s your long-term vision for Quero Education?
Bernardo: We want to be the marketplace for education. If you think about other industries like real estate, you have a primary marketplace that people look to, and so we want to own the education vertical. Our mission is to help people acquire the best education they can by placing them in the right course at the right school for a fair price.