Entrepreneurs Seeking to Predict College Admissions Odds

By Scott Martindale The Orange County Register

Like millions of high school seniors before them, childhood friends Jeet Banerjee and Supan "Shawn" Shah applied to college without really knowing where they'd get in -- or even what colleges look for in applicants.

Banerjee, who was rejected from his top choice of UC Irvine a few years ago, wished he'd played a sport and done more volunteer work.

Shah, who got into USC but was rejected from UCLA, regretted spending so much time procrastinating and playing video games.

"It was one of those things where I'm like, I should have done more in high school," said Shah, 19, of Anaheim Hills.

Now they're determined to help other students avoid the same fate.

Over the past two years, Banerjee and Shah have been building a website that allows students to predict the odds of admission to 1,200 U.S. colleges, based on grades, test scores, extracurricular activities and other factors.

Known as StatFuse, the free site uses a sophisticated computer formula unique to each college to instantly generate a precise numerical prediction.

The student's profile also is methodically analyzed, and a customized report helps students visualize weaknesses in their application.

"It's all about placing students, giving them a perspective, so they have better idea of where they stand," said Banjeree, 21, of Fullerton. "There is never going to be a 100 percent accuracy rate."

The site, which went live in January, has attracted about 30,000 users -- and investors have taken notice.

Earlier this year, Banerjee and Shah were invited to house StatFuse in a free office at K5Launch, a tech investment firm in Orange that nurtures start-ups.

StatFuse also has partnered with Torrance-based Blue Panda Labs, which is building the site's infrastructure in exchange for a cut of future profits.

And multimillionaire Michael K. Clifford, an education company entrepreneur and consultant in San Diego, is a StatFuse strategy adviser.

StatFuse user Kevin Cabrera, 18, of Miami, Fla., said he stumbled across the site about a month ago as he was obsessively searching the Internet to gauge his chances of getting into Florida State University, his top college pick. StatFuse gave him a 65 percent chance of admission, he said.

"I'm an anxious college wanna-be student," said Cabrera, a senior at Miami's Coral Gables High School. "We all want to know if we should apply to a college or not, and we all want to find out (about being accepted) beforehand."

Cabrera said he's gotten into Auburn University, University of Central Florida and University of Alabama. He retroactively plugged in his information for those schools, and StatFuse pegged his chances at 65 percent, 60 percent and 66 percent, respectively, he said.

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