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Sid Krommenhoek, Founder of Zinch

The Zinch platform was started in the US six years ago to help American students find universities at home and abroad, but has since extended its services to Chinese students looking to study abroad. We caught up with founder Sid Krommenhoek.

The PIE: Why did you decide to set up Zinch?

"If I had not had the opportunity to engage I would be in a much weaker position"

SK: It was an experience I and the other founders had all been through: researching and applying to colleges, and really being confused about what drives the recruitment and selection of students. We felt it was inefficient, like there were factors, qualities, experiences that students have that sometimes go under the radar.

So we wanted to build a system of profiles through which students could convey a more holistic and complete picture of who they were to universities looking to recruit them.

The PIE: Can students actually apply directly or just research?

SK: It’s like a match making tool you use for connecting with new people, much like Facebook or Twitter. On Zinch you’re able in a professional sense to connect with universities or students. Then you take it from there, offline.

“We felt there were factors, qualities, experiences that students have that go under the radar”

The PIE: When did your Chinese operations get going?

SK: Three years ago we launched the site for China, a completely localised version that was tailored to the needs of Chinese students. It is an educational portal for students to both understand the opportunities to study abroad and, in a very thoughtful way, search for schools. It also allows those schools to reach out and connect with Chinese students in a way that we feel leverages technology.

The PIE: How hard was it to set up in China? 

SK: I was fortunate to have studied the Chinese language ten years ago so I speak it. But more importantly we had staff who were local and who really knew the market and were able to navigate that process of establishing the company, hiring a team and really building a strategy that was completely customised to China. If it were not for those folks and that team it would have been much more difficult, if not impossible.

“So when you look at the total addressable market in China, we address about a third”

The PIE: And how many students in China are now using your site?

SK: Nearly 300,000. So when you look at the total addressable market, based on data published by the Institute for International Education, that’s about a third of all students considering and in a position to study outside of China.

The PIE: And how many American students do you cater to?

SK: I would say we reach about 30% of college students.

The PIE: Do institutions on your site have to sign up to be listed or is it comprehensive?

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