Niche
FormerlyCollege Prowler, Inc.
TypePrivate
FoundedAugust 9, 2002 in Pittsburgh
Headquarters,
United States
Key people
Luke Skurman, Founder and CEO
Number of employees
193
Websitewww.niche.com Edit this at Wikidata

Niche.com, formerly known as College Prowler,[1][2] is an American company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that runs a ranking and review site.[2] The company was founded by Luke Skurman in 2002 as a publisher of print guidebooks on US colleges, but is now an online resource providing information on K–12 schools, colleges, cities, neighborhoods, and companies across the United States.[1][3]

History

Niche, Inc. was founded as College Prowler in August 2002 by Luke Skurman and Joey Rahimi. Then students at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, they spun the company out of a project in their entrepreneurship class.[3]

In 2004, the small company obtained an investment of US$500,000 (equivalent to $717,319 in 2021) from Glen Meakem, who became the chairman.[4] In 2005, College Prowler was recognized by Fast Company for being one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in the nation.[5] Originally, the company produced print guidebooks, but by 2007 their content was made available online for a subscription fee, and then by 2009 the subscription was removed making all web content free.[3][6]

In 2013, College Prowler changed its name to Niche and started to cover K-12 school districts using federal data, state data, and user-generated reviews. Within months of launching the K-12 product, Niche had collected 500,000 user reviews on half of all high schools in the US.[7] After transitioning to the new business model, the bulk of revenue then came from partners who helped schools market and advertised to potential students.[8]

In 2018, Niche raised a $6.6 million (equivalent to about $7.1M in 2021) Series B funding round led by Allen & Company and Grit Capital Partners. The company also added Paul Palmieri, General Partner of Grit Capital Partners, to its board of directors.[9]

Product

Niche, as College Prowler, provided rankings, report cards (with attributed grades) and reviews of colleges in the US.[10] During its rebranding process, Niche expanded its coverage to include K-12 schools as well as neighborhoods under their "places to live" category.[1][11] In addition to its comprehensive profiles, Niche also lists scholarships from the company and third parties.[12]

Controversies

In a 2008 scandal known as "Facebookgate",[13][14] hundreds of spurious "Class of 2013" groups were created on Facebook for the purpose of promoting College Prowler.[15][16] Such groups would normally be created by actual students or colleges themselves. According to the CEO, "The original purpose was to use these groups as a way to inform students that they can access a free guide about their new college on our site."[17][18]

References

  1. ^ a b c Epstein, Eli (October 10, 2013). "A website for rating 'big life decisions'". CNN. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Spencer, Malia (October 11, 2013), "College Prowler becomes Niche and wants to help you make big decisions", Pittsburgh Business Times, archived from the original on May 16, 2014, retrieved April 22, 2014
  3. ^ a b c Fenn, Donna (October 1, 2009), "Case Study: Finding the Right Price for a Hot Product", Inc. Magazine, retrieved April 22, 2014
  4. ^ Todd, Deborah (October 4, 2014). "Review, rankings site College Prowler joins Niche group". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "2005 Fast 50 Winner". Fast Company. March 1, 2005. Archived from the original on September 29, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  6. ^ Spencer, Malia (August 12, 2011). "College Prowler soars after making switch to business model". Pittsburgh Business Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  7. ^ "College Prowler becomes Niche and wants to help you make big decisions". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  8. ^ www.bizjournals.com https://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/print-edition/2011/08/12/college-prowler-soars-business-model.html?page=all. Retrieved June 14, 2021. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Niche Announces $35M Series C Funding To Reimagine And Simplify The School And College Search Experience". AP NEWS. April 29, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  10. ^ Todd, Deborah (October 4, 2013). "Review, Rankings Site College Prowler Becomes Niche". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  11. ^ Dill, Kathryn (April 14, 2014), "Best cities and neighborhoods for millennials", Forbes, archived from the original on April 22, 2014, retrieved April 22, 2014
  12. ^ Tretina, Kat (December 2, 2020). "How To Read Your Student Aid Report". Forbes Advisor. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  13. ^ "Campus Overload - Facebookgate, the 2010 edition". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Facebookgate: Three Years of Facebook Forgery
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Facebookgate: Summary of a Scandal
  16. ^ "Facebookgate". December 19, 2008. Archived from the original on April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014. Facebookgate - Higher Ed Marketing
  17. ^ Windish, Joe (December 21, 2008). "Facebookgate: Companies "Colonize" Facebook for Marketing Exploits". The Moderate Voice. Joe Gandelman. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  18. ^ "Company Created Official-Looking 'Class of 2013' Facebook Groups for Hundreds of Colleges". Chronicle.com. December 19, 2008. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.