Black Tie International
-Crowdfunding 1 2
The Help you need..
Startup aims to revolutionize university application process
runs crowdfunding campaign to launch
GradTrain connects students with their “future me”
to guide them through the process of studying abroad
If everything goes well, the founders of GradTrain will have
the budget to launch their startup, and will have made
Internet history along the way. GradTrain is a startup
company that is developing an online platform to advise
prospective students on applying to graduate school abroad.
GradTrain was founded by
five friends from five different countries
who felt that studying abroad changed their lives, and seek
to help the next generation of prospective international
GradTrain presents an innovative solution to a real problem.
Foreign students often lack critical knowledge and the
personal and professional networksto understand the
application process. This is also evident from a survey
GradTrain ran among hundreds of respondents from over 50
countries. As a solution, GradTrain is building a community
of prospective, current and past international students who
can share experiences and minimize the uncertainty
associated with studies abroad. GradTrain is also developing
data-based tools to help students make better decisions in
GradTrain is currently running a private beta program for
hand-selected coaches (under 100 coaches from diverse fields
and nationalities). Throughout September it will open up the
platform to a broader audience of coaches, who will be
vetted and certified. In October, the peak of the university
application season, GradTrain will be opening the platform
for applicants to book coaching sessions. Following that, it
will launch algorithm-based decision-making tools, such as
acceptance-predictor and an application scheduler.
GradTrain is a Social Impact Startup
Over the past years, a new breed of companies has emerged –
those who are socially minded from the get-go to create a
social impact beyond the bottom line. GradTrain is what is
called a “for profit social impact startup,” or a “double
bottom line business.”It measures its success not only
through revenues and bottom line, but also through the
social impact the company is able to achieve: does GradTrain
keep services affordable? To what extent does it broaden
access to global education? Is GradTrain able to bring
talent to target countries and help young, ambitious global
people fulfill their potential in a new land? To further
these goals,GradTrain has pledged to dedicate a portion of
the company’s earnings to scholarships for international
GradTrain’s Fundraising Strategy
In order to launch, GradTrain requires a relatively low
investment of $500K. But the really interesting part of
GradTrain’s fundraising plan is the decision to raise the
first $30K through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a new form
of fundraising, where individuals and companies present
their projects on a designated website, and request the
crowd to contribute to it in return for various perks,
ranging from a thank you note, through personal acquaintance
with the founders, to pre-purchases of GradTrain’s products
to naming the GradTrain scholarship.“Based on our vision, we
wanted our first funding to be based on the power of the
internet to mobilize people across the globe and to increase
the opportunity of many individuals to participate in a
solution to a problem,” says Jacob Bacon, former advisor at
the United Nations and currently GradTrain co-founder and
CEO.“It is also a community building tool that involves
future users of GradTrain as well as people who care about
global education, and allows us to engage with them and
start a conversation and collaboration towards a common
Beyond past, present, and future international students, (or
their parents) who want this service to exist in order to
use it GradTrain’s contributors are people who believe in
the positive impact of global education – and want to be
part of the GradTrain effort and ensure a better future
for young, ambitious people
from all around the world.
To learn more about GradTrain,
readers can visit the
project's campaign page here:
The GradTrain story:
why make your own mistakes
when you can learn from others?
We are five
friends from five different
countries, who went through the journey of studying in
another country. Studying abroad changed our lives. Not only
did it help kick off our careers, but it is now also an
undeniable part of our identity.
We want other people to be able to do the same.
years we have been approached by friends, friends of
friends, and even people loosely connected (or not) to our
network. They sought advice on how to find and get into
graduate school abroad. We have also heard many stories of
people who missed their opportunity to obtain a graduate
degree abroad. We ourselves witnessed the challenges of
finding information and choosing programs abroad,
and decided to create a solution. We decided to be the
solution. That is what GradTrain is all about.
GradTrain is the first international web platform designed
for people who want to attend graduate school abroad.
GradTrain provides guidance from people who are what
you want to be in a few years. People who understand
your background, language and culture, and really care
about your success.
the international application process
To find out what people need, we ran a
among hundreds of current and past international graduate
students from more than 50 countries. Based on this
we are building an online platform that will:
students with coaches who share a similar background to
theirs, who have been through the process and can guide
to fulfill their potential.
algorithm-based decision making tools that will help
people make decisions based on data, and not on gut
international education, by minimizing information gaps,
and allowing all students to fulfill their potential.
GradTrain is currently running a private beta for
hand-selected coaches (under 100 coaches from diverse
fields and nationalities).
Throughout September we will open up the platform to a
broader audience of coaches, who we will be vetted and
(interested coaches can registered at:
In October, the peak of the university application
season, we are opening the platform for applicants to
book coaching sessions.
Following that, we will launch algorithm-based
decision-making tools that we have lined up, such as an
an application scheduler.
Why contribute to Gradtrain
1. I am a past, present, or
future international student (or a parent of one).
I want GradTrain to happen so I can be a coach or use the service myself.
2.I'm not an international student but I want to help one.
This page makes it so easy to help!
really care about global education.
I want to put my money where my mouth is.
is the next big thing. I sense it,
and I want to be able to say that I gave the seed money for
love the idea of social impact startups. Companies that care
about their social impact and not only about their bank
is a refreshing concept I want to encourage.
believe through international study we bring talent into
and GradTrain is a great way to enable talent get here.
was deeply impressed by the idea and your hard work,
and want to help you fulfill this dream.
we need and what we will do
with your contribution
we meet our $30,000 goal, with your generous help, we will
be able to:
perks are designed to make you a part of this initiative
and to connect you with the stories of real students.
Your support will allow us to help students in their journey
for international education!
we exceed our goal, we will be able to do a lot more and
provide tailored guidance for additional fields of study and
additional geographies around the globe, as well as provide
additional scholarships for students at need. We will also
be able to build more specialized tools to meet the needs of
is to transform
the field of international education.
We believe that enabling more people to study abroad is the
key to solving many global challenges. There are too many
barriers in the face of a person who wants to study abroad,
and GradTrain will remove many of them and
make the process much less of a guessing game.
Studying abroad opens people’s minds and exposes them to new
cultures. Being a foreigner is a humbling experience that
makes people understand more about minorities in their own
country. If we can empower more people to fulfill their goal
of studying abroad, the world will be a better place with
more acceptance of differences and better understanding of
others across the globe. It will enable a cross-pollination
of ideas and innovation that will be better distributed
GradTrain is a social impact for-profit venture, and we will
measure our success not only by the company’s bottom line,
but also by the social impact we are able to achieve. Our
services will be affordable and we will dedicate a
portion of our earnings to scholarships for students at need.
Other Ways You Can Help
if you can't contribute you can still help!
and make some noise about our campaign. Go to
share the GradTrain love!
using the link at the top of this page (below the
video)! Here it is again just in case:
Share the campaign offline via our
Print it out, add your personal endorsement and hang it up - at your
University, in your building, in the subway - anywhere
Contribute to our campaign and share it with your networks -
you will have our eternal gratitude for making this happen
and helping ambitious and intelligent people from across the
globe fulfill their dreams and aspirations
through studying abroad.
Together - we can make a real positive impact for
generations to come!
would not have been able to launch this campaign without the
help of dear and important friends who helped us with
sharing their own personal stories, helped us fine-tune the
message, and supported us along the way. Special thanks to
Moshe Laniado Peleg, Hadas Ben Sasson, Jette Lundgren,
Menachem Katz, Klara Stefflova, Natalia Urrea, Sarvenaz
Bakhtiar, Claire Chen, Gillian Albert, Mei-Tal Nadler, Ophir
Bar Zohar, Sanjeev K. Mahto, Ayanna Samuels, Luo Jing, Akiva
Miller, Alana Shultz, Brian Batts, Noa Reindel, Hagit
Stauber, Tzvika Avnery, Ori Harel, Katie Klein, Christian
Fink, Osnat Stimatzky, Larry Price, Barak Bard, Tom Dow,
Assaf B. Spanier, Yossi Goldman, Ilana Nesher, Arik
Marmorstein, Amir Hirshfeld, and Chris Wong. We would not be
able to get to this point without you, and appreciate your
continued support very much!
GradTrain in the media:
website gradtrain helps international graduate students
Black Tie International
Startup aims to revolutionize university
application process globally
"Hop on the GradTrain, next stop a far-off
The GradTrain team
includes five founders, originally from five different countries: The
United States, Israel, France, Switzerland, and Norway. We
have all been successfully enrolled in various graduate
programs at leading universities worldwide, and cover the
fields Computer Science, Law, Engineering, Organizational
Behavior, Public Health, and Sociology. Our team is
augmented by a lead developer. We are passionate about
helping aspiring international students fulfill
personal and professional goals.
are here to help you!
Jacob Bacon (M.A.).
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Change Management expert, until recently a special advisor
to the Assistant Secretary General and Chief Information
Technology Officer of the United Nations. Jacob holds a
Master’s degree in Labor Studies from Tel Aviv University in
Israel. He has led large technology implementation and
organizational transformation projects in global
organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, and has a
vast experience in leading projects from the idea phase to
Lital Helman (S.J.D.).
Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer
Israeli-accredited lawyer, specializes in Intellectual
Property Law and Cyber Law. Prior to her legal education,
Lital taught C++ programming courses at “Hacker Software,”
Israel. Lital pursued her Master’s and Doctorate degrees at
the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a Fulbright
scholar, and her post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia
University Law School. Lital’s articles have been published
in the USA and internationally, and she has served as an
expert advisor on international Intellectual Property litigation.
Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Expert in the fields
of computer science, statistical modeling and applied
mathematics. Raphael received his Bachelor’s degree from the
University of British Columbia in Canada, and his Masters
and PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in the USA.
Raphael serves as a post-doctoral fellow at the Ecole
Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.
Raphael holds two US patents (130,258, 535,497 (pending)).
Sharon Rodner (PhD)
Expert in Social
Science research, surveys and analytics. Sharon is a
lecturer at the School of Public Health at the University of
Haifa and the Assistant Director of the International
Leadership in Global Health Systems Program. Sharon received
her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of
Manchester in the UK, and her Master’s and PhD in Sociology
from Stockholm University in Sweden. Sharon completed her
postdoctoral research at the Annenberg Public Policy Center
University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Josue Sznitman (Dr.Sc.).
Assistant professor of biomedical engineering
at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion); founder
and director of the Technion Biofluids Laboratory;
co-founder of the Technion Portable Biomedicine Laboratory.
Previously, he has held research and teaching positions at
the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton University.
Josué holds degrees in mechanical engineering from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and ETH Zurich
in Switzerland. Josué serves as a current member of the MIT
Education Council and holds US patent no. 6,663,177.
Roy Ben-Sasson. Lead
worked as a senior developer and team leader at Israel’s
number 1 bank. Joined the GradTrain team to lead the effort
of building our technological platform. Expert in software
development and information security. Proficient in numerous
programming languages with over 20 years of experience
software development and design.
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