While Facebook didn’t exactly “create” the term social media, it certainly did bring it to mass attention. Ever since its birth, the world wide web has emerged a broad variety of social media services specified for different target demographics. A few quick examples that pop into my mind would be LinkedIn for business networking, the hugely popular teen web site Habbo (which comes from Finland by the way) and image enthusiastic Pinterest.

Alumniplus will be jumping into the category of target group specific social networking sites, and as the name suggests, they’re going after the university alumni all around the world.

Based in Techhub Riga, Asteria Education is the startup behind Alumniplus. The idea of a networking site for alumni got started by a fundraising campaign in cooperation with DDB Latvia, which took place a few years ago. Basically what happened is that after the subprime crash unfolded itself in its full glory back in 2008 the tuition fees for the SSE Riga business school rose up to €3300 per year. This deeply affected many who found themselves unable to pay the new tuition fees. So in order to keep getting brilliant students to study in SSE Riga, regardless of their financial background, the school opened a fundraising campaign aimed at the SSE Riga alumni to get money for scholarships.

Though the initial campaign was a success (donations rose from 0% to 11%), it was clear that it wasn’t as much as expected. The team which today forms Asteria Education got connected through this mutual cause and mustered up the know-how to create a donation platform which focused on specific methods of engagement. These were pleas from professors, images of students from the 90’s as well as displays and infographs showing who’s donating and how much in comparison with others.

It was a huge success; Alumni memberships rose by 30% and donations rose up to 33%, which was more than double of the previous fund raising record of 14%, set by Stanford University which was long known as the most successful fundraiser in the world. The SSE Riga fund raise collected a total of €92,000 and granted 27 students a scholarship.

Today, the Alumniplus networking offers a social centre where alumni can connect globally and engage in fundraising or alumni activities in general. They have client universities in Sweden, Germany, UK and Latvia and recently they closed a minor but important pre-seed loan from Imprimatur Capital Seed Fund, a Riga based seed investor funded by the Latvian Guarantee Agency (LGA).

A monthly subscription fee for a university depends on the limit of users; €495 for up to 2000 users, €595 for up to 5000 users and €890 for up to 10 000 users. Not to worry, if you feel like you’ll have more than 10k users, then extra capacity is just a matter of negotiation.

Asteria Education sees the Alumni relation systems as both outdated and lucrative. According to their press release, it’s a billion dollar industry where a cloud based university branded platform could really make it big. They don’t see themselves as a substitute for big social media, but rather as a supplement.

They’ve been given the thumbs up from home office by Andris Berzins, TechHub Riga co-founder: “From my experience in the USA and Europe I see that universities would benefit greatly from the innovation that alumniplus.co brings to fundraising. I am happy to see Asteria punching above their weight to create new solutions for alumni engagement.”

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock //Alumni