Navigating the Path to College:
First for His Family and Then for All of Ours

Brands that inspire

Bill Staib of College Raptor has a passion for helping families on their journey to college

Let’s pretend you’ve built a unique tool to help your family navigate the extremely important and complex college decision process. Let’s say you’ve designed it to simplify the college search process and improve the results of one of the biggest decisions every young adult (and their family) face. What if that tool could actually help show you how to search for colleges? To match you (or your student) with the best higher education institutions that fit the interests, lifestyle, and budget of said student? What would you do with that tool? 

If you're Bill Staib, one of the co-founders and president and ceo of College Raptor, you'd create the tool and then you'd share it free of charge with everyone you can.

William Staib (Bill), president and ceo, and co-founder of college raptor

How many kids are you sending to college?

After 20 years of success in the Tech industry, Bill found himself working on a new challenge. He had built a wonderful life for himself and his family in Iowa (in his own words “one of the greatest places to raise a family”) and as the prospect of having six kids overlapping in college at the same time approached, he realized he needed help. There was data out there, if you know how to search for colleges. However, that data was not always accurate, not always easy to get, and there was not a useful college search tool to compare all the different data points. In short, you could find out a whole lot of information about a college, but you could not really tell if that school was a good fit for your family or your student.  

There are over 6,000 Colleges and Universities in the United States, most prospective students can name fifty. They can name the schools they have seen watching College Football, or March Madness, or one’s they have had friends attend or maybe even know from other pop culture references. Some Schools are celebrities; but how do you learn about the thousands of schools you have never heard of? 

For those with the resources to pay for a college coach that is a solid option, but for Bill and his family of eight, it was not. A college coach is a service meant to take the work out of your hands but at a hefty cost. Dollars add up quickly for six kids all focused on the goal of higher education. So, Bill dug in himself and started doing the heavy lifting for his kids and his family. Creating spreadsheets and comparison tools to help guide their decisions. Word got out about his ability to tear through the data (like a raptor), and suddenly he was the college search engine for his kid’s friends, friends of the family, and anyone who asked; College Raptor was born. From the very beginning, Bill had one nonnegotiable: the kids and families that use his tool will never pay a dime for it!

How do you pitch a business proposal when you refuse to charge entry?

Photo of the Staib Family, Bill and his wife and 6 kids. 5 biological 1 foster daughter.
Bill and his wife Jen in 2014 on the cusp of havinge 6 children in college at the same time!

How do you pitch a business proposal when you refuse to charge entry?

It is hard to imagine some of those early investor pitch meetings and how they must have played out. Bill meeting with prospective partners: I have this great idea to provide a service that is a void in the marketplace and will benefit hundreds of thousands of kids and their families, but I’m not going to charge anything for it, and I need a lot of money to get it up and running, who’s with me? Bill had a history of success in the tech space that gave him credibility, and his idea hit home with everyone lucky enough to get the pitch. Whether a parent of a child navigating the college selection process, or someone who had gone through it themselves, there was an understanding that a better tool was needed. What became clear was that if done right everyone could win: students, schools, and eventually investors.  

What are the attributes of a successful entrepreneur?

Bill has many amazing qualities. He’s brilliant, though he’d never tell you that himself because he’s also one of the most humble and down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. Maybe his more valuable attributes on this journey are his long-term vision and a self-professed high tolerance for being uncomfortable. College Raptor was not an overnight success. The first couple of years were spent working tirelessly out of a warehouse, not a glamourous office building, burning the midnight oil perfecting the platform and the partnerships, and all without a paycheck.  Bill’s biggest secret to success? His patient wife and family who fully supported this passion and trusted Bill to make it happen.  

The most important thing for College Raptor has always been the student experience. Providing students with a tool to help them succeed is the only goal. Seeing the project through that lens has always been critical to the success of College Raptor. The best match for a student will yield the best success for the student. The success achieved by the student will yield success for the school, and that is where the idea became a reality.  Schools had always had a budget to advertise; College Raptor could use those advertising dollars and take it a step further. Not only allow Colleges and Universities to reach larger numbers of potential students but create better matches and target those students. Better matches equal better results for everyone. 

How to Build a Brand Strategy that will Attract Students and Their Families.

The team at LRobInspires is proud to be College Raptors partners for Brand and Marketing Strategy and Services. Even more proud to note that College Raptor was one of our first clients. Early in the College Raptor Journey Bill had the opportunity to cross paths with our own Liz Robinson while she was leading brand for one of the largest student loan providers in the country. While Bill was creating College Raptor, Liz the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of LRobInspires was in the initial stages of setting out on her own path, and in the process of creating her own new adventure and company. Liz wanted to take her 30 years of brand and marketing experience in Financial Services and Higher Education and apply that expertise to companies on a mission. A mission to do good things and provide positive outcomes for others. What better mission than that of guiding young people through the complex process of making the biggest decision of their lives could LRobInspires take part in? 

Over the years College Raptor has leveraged the full portfolio of LRobInspires brand and marketing expertise.  We needed to be certain of the mission and purpose Bill had stood behind for years and it needed to be reflected in everything we did from the tools and resources, to the content, and of course the look and feel of the brand. From there, we needed to truly understand the target audience and ensure we had a clear path for reaching them. It was truly exciting to be a part of College Raptor and its humble beginnings operating out of a warehouse, to where College Raptor sits today as a wholly owned subsidiary of Citizens Bank N.A. We are honored that Bill considers our work to have had a profound impact on the growth and continued success of his company.  

"I don't think I'd be where I am at without you..." after reflecting on the last seven years of collaboration and now friendship with LRobInspires.

Tips for startups, small business owners, and entrepreneurs

Remembering the true goal and mission of your business is key to moving forward especially when things don’t feel like they’re progressing at the level or pace you want. If we all learn anything from the College Raptor start-up success story, it’s that you should stay true to yourself and remember to keep your eyes fixed on your long-term goal.  

 The entire team at LRobInspires wants to personally thank Bill and the rest of the College Raptor team for allowing us to be a true partner in the journey. We love what College Raptor stands for and the difference it has and can make for so many students and families. Including mine…

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