Starfish Retention Solutions Launches Software Targeting Higher Education Student Retention

Company Secures Series A Financing, Plans Additional Early Alert, Tutoring, Advising, and Mentoring Products
Arlington, VA, July 8, 2008 Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc., an emerging provider of software to improve student success in higher education, announced today the upcoming launch of its first product, Starfish OFFICE HOURS™. Starfish seeks to improve higher education retention and graduation rates by helping academic institutions organize the services that have the greatest impact on student success. Its software platform will improve the delivery and assessment of programs which identify at-risk students, promote contact with instructors, deliver tutoring services, provide academic advising, and facilitate relationships with mentors.

"Starfish has the potential to profoundly impact the success rates of students at all levels – from community college students to those pursuing advanced degrees. The ability to improve retention and graduation rates has significant implications for both the students and the institutions," said Jack Biddle, general partner, Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Starfish Retention Solutions board member. "In addition to its developing product pipeline and its experienced management team, the Starfish team has a large network of educators whom they have worked with in the past. This combination creates a significant opportunity for us to successfully tackle one of education's biggest challenges."

"Half of the students enrolled in colleges today will leave before they achieve the goals of their education, be it a degree or improved job skills. Our own research along with the published literature concludes that those odds can be improved through more student contact with instructors, advisors, and counselors," said David Yaskin, founder and CEO, Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc. "Starfish OFFICE HOURS™ enables students to develop and maintain relationships with campus faculty and staff who can help them achieve success. We’ve worked closely with a number of schools, including Princeton University and Grand Rapids Community College, to develop this new academic-networking software which provides an efficient, cost-effective platform from which students can be supported outside of the classroom."

The functionality and manageability of Starfish OFFICE HOURS™ benefits both students and the educators who help them succeed. Students who identify scheduling conflicts and being intimidated as the primary hurdles in preventing relationship development with faculty, can use Starfish OFFICE HOURS™ to break down those barriers. Twenty-four/seven web-based appointment scheduling; instructor endorsements from other students who have been helped; and single login integration with popular course management systems such as Blackboard, WebCT, Angel Learning, Moodle and Sakai all create a better educational experience for students.

Online calendaring applications are mostly unused by faculty because they are too involved . With Starfish OFFICE HOURS™ faculty members rely on a central, self-service capability for students to book appointments, reducing their volume of scheduling emails and phone calls. After an easy onetime set up, instructors, advisors, and counselors are simply notified by email of new appointments. Additionally, instructors, advisors, counselors, and administrators receive updated reports indicating the level and nature of contact with the students.

"The complexity of today’s higher education environment requires alternative ways for institutions to engage their students," said Dr. John R. Cowles, Associate Dean, Counseling, Advising & Retention Services of Grand Rapids Community College. "By removing the roadblocks all students, particularly first-generation students, experience when attempting to connect with instructors, advisors, and counselors, students are more likely to continue in their studies. Having a strategic system in place dramatically levels the playing field for students who may be at a disadvantage."

Starfish OFFICE HOURS will be showcased at BbWorld '08, Blackboard’s annual user conference, July 15-July 17 in Las Vegas. For details please contact Naomi Horak ( at 866.782.7035 x707.

Series A Financing Secured
Starfish Retention Solutions also announced today it has secured $3.15 million in first round financing from Novak Biddle Venture Partners, a premier early-stage IT venture capital firm. Novak Biddle led the first financing round for Blackboard (Nasdaq: BBBB), a leading enterprise learning technology provider where several Starfish team members formerly worked. Starfish’s CEO, David Yaskin, was a longtime executive at Blackboard prior to starting the company in 2007.
About Starfish Retention Solutions
Starfish Retention Solutions Inc. helps academic institutions engage, motivate and graduate more students. Starfish provides innovative software solutions to help institutions organize the services that have the greatest impact on student success. Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc. is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. For more information, please call 866.782.7035 or visit

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