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IIT Grads Build India’s 1st AI Admission Platform To Help Students Get Into Dream Colleges

IIT graduates Dirghayu Kaushik, Vikrant Shivalik and Vaibhav Tyagi started Ambitio to help Indian students get into their dream universities abroad. The AI-powered free platform helps students find the right colleges and even in filling applications and writing personal essays.

IIT Grads Build India’s 1st AI Admission Platform To Help Students Get Into Dream Colleges

A disarray of paper forms, application forms, transcripts, and recommendation letters lying in a scattered heap is what the desk of an ambitious student applying for university looks like. Ambitious yet anxious, the master of all those pieces of document peers over them scrutinising every word as it holds the capacity to fulfil his dreams.

“Questions like which university to apply to and where one holds the most chance of getting through haunt us. While there are counsellors who might help you, they charge impossibly high fees to walk us through the process,” recalls Dirghayu Kaushik, the founder of Ambitio.

Nearly half a decade ago, Dirghayu too found himself in a similar situation. “I wanted to pursue a masters but did not know which college to choose from. The paperwork, the anxiety of it all was making me very tense,” he shares with The Better India.

When he went out looking for help, all he found was an overpriced option. This led to the foundation of Ambitio — India’s first AI admissions platform, to help applicants secure admissions to top global universities.

Dirghayu explains in detail how Ambitio uses AI to help students secure admissions.

Not his first try at entrepreneurship

After completing his graduation from IIT-BHU, Dirghayu Kaushik got a job in a startup.

He recalls, “I got hired as a founding member in a startup. For about two years, I spearheaded their entire product development, overseeing the creation of both the tech and product teams from scratch. We started with just a four-member team, including the founders, and expanded significantly during my tenure.”

While he was working at the startup, he was also looking for colleges to further his education.

“I completed my graduation and started to look for foreign universities to apply for an MBA. The process was tedious and I realised that there was no platform to help students,” he says. 

He adds, “There are counsellors who help students get into universities but they charge a lot of money which might not be affordable to everyone. Additionally, they can help you with particular college admission and not with a variety of colleges,” he says.

Dirghayu wanted to create a platform that did it all for students — college applications, personal essays, and finding the right college for the students.

“I went to my college buddies — Vikrant Shivalik and Vaibhav Tyagi — and told them about my idea. They were enthralled and we joined hands to create the platform,” he says.

The founders of Ambitio.
The founders of Ambitio.

The trio developed the platform and launched it in 2023. “We began by assembling a cohort of 25 students and then assisted them in securing placements at top institutions. Prior to developing any product, we focused on refining their profiles.”

“We initiated this process by leveraging notion templates, air tables, and other local tools to create a small MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Through these means, we meticulously analysed how we could enhance their chances of gaining admission to reputable institutions,” he adds further. 

Among various students who have availed of their services is Prakhar Kamal who got into Warwick Business School. “I was already working with a counsellor before I knew about Ambitio. My experience with the counsellor was not very good and I lost motivation. When I started to use Ambitio, I started to regain confidence in myself. I was able to use their services to find the colleges that suit me and then choose the right one,” he says.

Since its operation, the platform has helped over 175 students get into international universities such as Carnegie Mellon University, NYU, Imperial College Dundon, UC Berkeley, etc.

Using AI to find the dream college

The company has helped 175 students get their dream university.
The company has helped 175 students get their dream university.

Ambitio began with a core challenge we aimed to address: simplifying the admissions process for students using AI.

“To achieve this, we developed a platform product designed to support students throughout their entire admissions journey. Our ultimate objective is to establish a comprehensive global AI admissions platform,” he says.

He adds, “Regardless of a student’s background or location, our aim is to provide equal opportunities and access to the right guidance, a privilege often reserved for the affluent or those able to afford expensive counsellors. We leverage cutting-edge technology, including AI, to achieve this goal.”

Explaining how AI comes into play with the process, he says, “We employ AI in two primary areas. Firstly, we utilise it to assist students in determining the most suitable program or university currently available in the market. While there are existing filtration tools enabling students to filter courses they are eligible for and view them, we’ve taken an additional step forward. We incorporate preferences into the equation.”

In other words, the AI strives to understand and integrate the individual preferences of each student into the recommendations that it provides.

“We accomplish this through our proprietary recommendation engine, which has been trained on over 15 million acceptance and admit data points. While it’s certainly possible for students to conduct this research themselves by visiting numerous websites, reading various articles, and compiling the information manually, our platform streamlines this process significantly,” he shares.

By synthesising and analysing vast amounts of information, the platform can deliver personalised recommendations quickly and seamlessly, saving students valuable time and effort.

The next step where AI comes in to help the students is writing their personal essays. “Once the students know what college they want, the next step is to write a stellar essay. We trained our model with 5,000 accepted essays from across universities.”

He explains, “We begin by ensuring basic grammar and punctuation are correct. Beyond these fundamentals, we focus on delivery and specificity. Delivery pertains to how effectively the essay is conveyed as a whole, while specificity refers to its relevance to the programme being applied for and the individual applicant’s profile.”

Think of it as a personalised Grammarly tool tailored specifically for college applications!

“The platform is mostly free for students except for the phase where they need effective management of their essays and applications. This phase comes under a small paid subscription. Before this phase, everything else from finding the right college to applying for a scholarship comes under the free subscription,” he informs.

The company has also recently raised Rs 1.5 crore in a pre-seed round of funding from First Cheque and angel investors from the US and India.

As for the future plans, he says, “We want to entail aggressive growth within the Indian market. Presently, we’re managing around 200 students in this intake, and we aim to scale up to 2,500 within the upcoming financial year. Additionally, we are planning to expand our services to include undergraduate admissions as well. This strategic expansion will allow us to cater to a broader range of students and further establish ourselves as a comprehensive admissions platform.” 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande; All pictures credit: Ambitio)

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