[This past Saturday I had the opportunity to sit in on Prof. Steve Hansen’s class at Beijing University’s Guanghua School of Management. Prof. Hansen’s class is on one of the hottest topics being debated in China right now: entrepreneurship. Each week he is inviting entrepreneurs in Beijing to guest lecture, and this past week he invited Terry Crawford and his wife Gloria, the co-founders of InitialView. InitialView has an interview platform that assists U.S. universities in getting an authentic look at their applicants from China.]
The past 10 years have witnessed the rapid growth of not only the number of Chinese applicants who wish to study abroad, but also the agents who help students chase their dreams. It is a growing challenge for university admission officers to identify the right candidates in an efficient and effective manner, based merely on paper documents alone. Some documents are tampered by agents, which makes it even more difficult for admission officers to have an authentic look at the international applicants.
InitialView offers a quick and easy way for admission officers to evaluate the candidates through unedited video interviews. Founded in 2009 in Beijing by Terry Crawford, InitialView allows viewers to determine the interviewee’s English ability and interpersonal skills within seconds. Over 40 education institutions have experienced the InitialView service, including most of the top universities and liberal arts schools in U.S.
The innovative aspects of InitialView include not only the unscripted interview but also its patent-pending video platform. The platform ensures that viewers can jump from one question to another instead of having to go through the entire interview. The school finds it as a valuable source of an authentic look at the applicants without any extra cost. The students are willing to pay 600 RMB for a video interview to better communicate and interact with the admission officers.
Terry can be characterized as possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, even though he used to work as a private equity lawyer in Beijing before he established InitialView. In 2007, Terry founded and launched Hitchsters.com, which was his first technology venture. It was a New York-based website which offered a cab-sharing feature that connected customers sharing rides to and from the airport. It was named one of Time Magazine’s Top 50 Websites of 2007, and it was sold in 2010.
As the Head of University Relations at InitialView, Gloria shares the same values and spirit as her husband, Terry. The American couple gets satisfaction from satisfying the needs of not only the admission officers but also of the Chinese applicants. The happiness and positive feedback from both sides motivate the startup team. Terry often gets inspired by the young students from second-tier–or even third-tier–cities who he interviews. Despite generally less resources than those from cities like Beijing and Shanghai, he finds that many of those students are super smart with fluent English skills.
Terry plans to continue expanding in the higher education space and build upon InitialView’s successes to expand into other markets, including universities in other countries which have applicants from China as well as to other countries which have students that are applying to study in the U.S.
Next week Matthieu David will be visiting Prof. Hansen’s class and talking on gift boxes. Stay tuned.