Kempus wants to be the best app for sharing college hacks • TechCrunch

Kempus wants to be the best app for sharing college hacks • TechCrunch

Image sources: Campus

Remember you’ve been thinking about the Rate My Professors page to see which professors are handsome and who give easy As? The professor and class evaluation site is one of the few web 1.0 sites that is still alive and well today. When news feed provider Chedder bought the portal in 2018, it boasted a monthly user base of 6 million.

Its enduring relevance has impressed South Korean serial entrepreneur Jae Lee, who was educated in the US and lives in Singapore, but the site is far from perfect. For example, identities are not verified, so there is no way to verify the validity of reviews. Ultimately, students see it as a “fun” site rather than something serious on which to base their course decisions, Lee suggests in an interview.

However, the popularity of indicates that students need a place to help each other through their college experiences. Lee and his co-founder Danny Woo therefore set out to build Kempus, an anonymous online community for American college students.

Specifically, Kempus aims to create a body of knowledge that will help students reach their ultimate goal, in Lee’s words, “before they graduate.” This knowledge, or what the founder calls “a unique set of data within higher education,” can range from professor evaluations, tips on buying used textbooks, housing evaluations, to college counseling.

“We’re democratizing the level of access to information, which starts with reviewing courses,” says Lee.

Incorporated in August 2022, Kempus recently raised $3 million from Bithumb Korea, a major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, although the company has no plans to partner with cryptocurrencies, according to its founder.

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According to Lee, the reason we took money from Bithumb is that Kempus is fundamentally a data business, so “we decided to pitch our idea to a seed investor who had significant investments in a data-driven business in the past, including but not limited to blockchain, under their portfolio.”


A flood of reports has shown that teenagers are particularly prone to the harms of social media. While ambitious startups such as Fizz tout “secure and private” social networks for university students, attracting investors’ interest in being the “next Facebook”, Kempus positions itself more as a “community” that harnesses the experience and knowledge of students.

Users are anonymous, but their identities are verified through their school emails, and they can only join their own college communities. To promote a safe environment, Kempus has created a self-governing mechanism through which students can flag bad actors. “We are not these mega social media where we can employ thousands of people in the Philippines to moderate content, so the first layer [of filtering] the community,” says Lee.

The second layer is the Kempus itself, which rewards students with points for their content contribution. In doing so, the company aims to be a facilitator rather than a moderator or censor.

In order to attract early users, Kempus contacts student associations and university lecturers. It only launched its MVP (minimum viable product) at the end of January, so it’s too early to tell if it has found its product market fit. While course evaluations may sound like a niche, Lee believes the narrow focus is precisely the startup’s strategic advantage.

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“There have been several stabs at solving the problem of higher education as a whole… But I think that several aspects, several categories are so deeply rooted in society and the human race that they are very difficult to solve because it is possible. connect with politics,” he argues. “We are not here to solve higher education as a whole problem. We try to focus on the bottom up.”

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