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    One of the 20th century’s literary greats, Scott F Fitzgerald broke out with some of his best works when he was barely out of college. A progenitor of the modern coming-of-age novel, the central preoccupation of Fitzgerald’s seminal debut, This Side of Paradise is to capture the essence of what it is to be young, as his protagonist negotiates his way through college years at Princeton. Fitzgerald likens youth to “a dream”, “a form of chemical madness”, and, using an analogy that a certain Forest Gump would mirror decades later, “a plate full of candy”.
    In India, a glance at the demographics today tells us that Fitzgerald’s form of chemical madness has now reached epidemic proportions. We’re home to the world’s largest youth population, and according to an Ernst & Young report, we have about 140 million people in the college-going age group. By 2030, it adds, that would mean that one in every four graduates could potentially be from an Indian college. To keep up with the growing demand for higher education, colleges of varying degrees of educational caliber have mushroomed, especially in Tier I and II cities. This in itself has provided the perfect start-up opportunity: an aggregator that makes choosing where to apply a less arduous task.
    Of the many aggregators, the most promisingly disruptive player has been a relative newbie: IndiaCollegeSearch.Com. With over 2 million student users and over 5,000 colleges listed, the online start-up’s database is unparalleled. But what sets them apart is their much-touted algorithm for searches and sorting results. Using a range of qualitative and quantitative factors, it helps students zero in on higher education options that meet very specific needs. Diversifying beyond simply listing colleges, the site also allows users to interact with alumni through the college review section. It’s no wonder then thatIndiaCollegeSearch.Com was among the “Top 100 Fast Growing Companies in Asia” listed by Red Herring last year.
    A key facilitator of this success comes from the `20 million the start-up raised from the Indian Angel Network, an almost-decade old network of angel investors who, apart from funding, provide mentorship and guidance to take a fledgling start-up to the market. This round of funding was led by People Group CEO Anupam Mittal (whose properties include Shaadi.com), who also sits on the start-up’s board. As the higher education market expands, a concomitant rise in the number of aggregators is bound to follow.
    — pauldharamraj@gmail.com

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