From Start-Up to Standout
Ranku was founded in 2013 by Cecilia Retelle Zywicki and Kim Taylor, former ice hockey teammates who envisioned it as a consumer-facing site where users could compare universities’ online degree programs and submit their applications. Both had extensive experience in education: Cecilia had been a senior director of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a lobbyist for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce for education issues. Kim had been a director of an ed tech startup working with several prominent education technology companies.
Ranku was originally funded by an education technology accelerator and eventually attracted the attention of billionaire investor Mark Cuban, who led a seed funding initiative of $500,000. By 2015 the founders decided to shift Ranku’s focus to international students, who might not be adept at establishing the reputation, legitimacy, and value of colleges and universities in the United States.
Refining Ranku’s Market
Eventually Ranku began working directly with colleges and universities, drawing traffic to an online platform with information about their programs, collecting data about prospective students to increase enrollments, and helping to tailor their courses to the market’s demands. Ranku also allowed schools with fewer resources to build a more extensive online presence on which to convert traffic into enrollment.
Ranku was acquired in 2016 by Wiley, complementing and adding to its comprehensive suite of services under the Wiley Education Services business. Ranku provides another example of the innovative thinking and creative solutions that Wiley Education Services is known for as it continues to partner with colleges, universities, and university systems to further their mission and strategic goals.