Uversity: An SMB Case Study From Dropbox

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Posted by Andy Wendt

Uversity helps colleges boost student enrollment with Dropbox for Business
Steve Carpenter

College admissions can be an intimidating and confusing process. But applicants who have a chance to see what campus life will really be like—often by speaking with current students—typically enroll at higher rates to universities that are a better fit for them. That's the premise behind San Francisco-based Uversity, which uses real-time data to help colleges and universities improve enrollment and retention rates. 

With five million students across 140 partner schools (like Washington State University and Columbia College Chicago), Uversity has built an online community where students can interact with future classmates and admissions officers, to learn more about the university and campus life. Using algorithms to crunch large volumes of demographic and behavioral data, Uversity predicts which prospective students are most likely to enroll in—and stay—at their partner schools, so those schools can target the right candidates. 

But performing these predictive analyses requires the ability to store and share massive volumes of data, and Uversity had no central repository for its information. While staff members initially resorted to storing data on local hard drives and sending files over email, as the young company grew, the team realized they needed tighter control over their information. 

“Our data was very fragmented,” recalled Operations Manager Meghan Strauss. “Not everyone had access to the files they needed. There was no visibility into our file-sharing environment and no security over our proprietary information. It was like the Wild West.” 

They knew there had to be a better way—so they took a cue from the student world. Solutions like Dropbox, for example, are already a favorite among college students for accessing class materials from anywhere or easily sharing term papers with professors. And because students often use the service in high school, too, the transition to college becomes that much easier; there's one less thing they have to acclimate to during the first few stressful months of college. 

So after evaluating multiple solutions, Uversity decided the best way to regain control over data access and file sharing was moving to Dropbox for Business —and they quickly saw a difference. “Dropbox for Business has brought our team together,” explained Strauss. “Our employees can access the exact information they need. And from a business perspective, we know our data is secure and always available to us whether we’re working remotely or in the office.”

With Dropbox for Business, the Uversity team no longer has issues accessing and sharing large files, especially because Dropbox's LAN sync feature reduces the time it takes to update and share files within the same office network. Now the marketing and sales teams can quickly download and share large multimedia presentations and webinars; finance can easily access spreadsheet archives, sales contracts, and partner agreements; and the product team can work with large volumes of data without issue. “With our large files and everyone working on a wireless network, availability could be a big issue for us,” said Strauss. “But Dropbox for Business does a great job of managing bandwidth and transferring data.”

By keeping the company's files securely stored and backed up, Dropbox ensures that Uversity's information is always accessible when it's needed, yet ensures that it never falls into the wrong hands. For example, if a Uversity employee loses their smartphone or laptop, the company can remotely wipe the Dropbox files from the device whenever it next comes online. Similarly, if an employee leaves the company, Uversity can easily reassign his or her files to another user, thanks to Dropbox's account transfer feature. “Security is really important to us,” she added. ”With Dropbox for Business, we know our information is always safe.”

For Uversity's small but growing team, deploying such an easy-to-use platform has allowed them to save on training costs, while boosting productivity. "We've never had an IT person on staff, and Dropbox for Business lets us maintain our do-it-yourself approach," says Strauss. "We can keep resources lean and use our capital to invest in product development, sales, and marketing."

With data storage taken care of, Uversity can spend more time focusing on their mission of helping students find the best college experience. “Dropbox for Business is an indispensable part of our daily lives," said Strauss. "We don’t ever have to think about it, so we can focus our attention on what we do best: helping students make the right college decisions.”