Chances are you’ve come across University of Phoenix ads on billboards, TV, or while going about your business in GMail. But that’s because its parent company, the Apollo Group, spends hundreds of millions on marketing.

Traditional universities offer online programs as well–often at a lower cost than Phoenix’s $60,000 price tag. But they often lack the online marketing budgets and expertise to get the word out to potential students. According to Ranku co-founder and CEO, Kim Taylor, “schools should not have to be good at online marketing and SEO.”

Ranku website

Ranku website

Her mission is to level the playing field by offering a search engine where students can discover and apply to online programs from traditional universities. The system returns results based on users’ interests in their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and offers upfront info about application requirements, costs, and other relevant program details. Current partners include Liberty University, Western Governors University and the University of Arizona.

Ranku was founded in June 2013 by Taylor (a former adtech manager who also starred in the short-lived Bravo reality show, “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley“) and Cecilia Retelle (former senior director of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) The startup recently graduated from the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator and has already raised $500K in a seed round led by Mark Cuban

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