CollegeDekho Matches 50,000 Students with the Right College with Help from AWS EdStart


CollegeDekho is on a mission to connect students in India with the right college. In order to help navigate the country’s wide array of options within higher education, the company acts as a bridge between the students and universities by providing a range of services, including free counseling, information on loans and scholarships, and end-to-end admissions assistance.

The idea for CollegeDekho stemmed from Ruchir Arora’s personal experiences while managing the education advertising business for Hindustan Times, an Indian English-language daily newspaper. “Friends and family would come to me with the same question: ‘Which is the best college for my son or daughter?’” says Arora, founder and chief executive officer at CollegeDekho. “Most of the students were not among the top performers in school. While there were a lot of options and help for the top 5 percent of students, the remaining 95 percent were basically ignored. No one was giving direction to this segment of students.”

India has 53,000 degree-granting colleges, yet Arora found students were struggling to get into good colleges, and those colleges were struggling to get good students. At that time, college admissions and career counseling were not readily accessible or affordable for most students. “There were colleges available, they just couldn’t reach out to the students. And students had the potential, they just didn't know the right path to follow. Often, students chose a college based on the advice of family or teachers, not realizing that it might not be the best choice for them.”

That’s when Arora decided to create a platform to bridge the gap. In 2015, Arora formed CollegeDekho and built a cloud-based tool to assess student needs, connect them with the right college and courses, and assist them through the application process. The platform ran on Docker containers, but as the company began to see significant growth in traffic and usage, Arora and other company leaders realized they needed a way to rapidly scale.

student sitting outdoors writing in a textbook

AWS EdStart helped us get a head start building our product with robust infrastructure that is highly scalable.”

Ruchir Arora
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CollegeDekho

Scaling to Meet Growing Demand with AWS

In 2018, CollegeDekho selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help it improve scalability, reliability, and security. By May 2020, the company had migrated to AWS completely. The all-in approach helped the company scale on demand and run its solution in a more cost-effective manner.
CollegeDekho then built its Lead Management System—the tool its internal team uses to counsel students—using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to host the application and Elastic Load Balancing to balance the load into multiple instances. The company also relies on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store admission-related documentation for students and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to store data and communications. In addition, the company takes advantage of Amazon CloudFront to improve site response time and user experience.

For additional support and guidance, CollegeDekho enlisted the help of the AWS EdStart program. AWS EdStart helps entrepreneurs quickly build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. CollegeDekho used AWS EdStart office hours and industry connections to optimize its infrastructure and reduce costs. “We were excited to be a part of AWS EdStart even before we migrated to AWS,” says Arora. “We were experimenting with products and user journeys because we did not have the time to reinvent the wheel for technology and infrastructure. AWS EdStart helped us get a head start building our product with robust infrastructure that is highly scalable.”

Supporting Student Success through More Informed College Choices

Since its founding, CollegeDekho has worked with approximately two million students and matched more than 50,000 students with a college that aligns with their skills and interests.
Using AWS, the company was able to auto scale to support 300 percent year-over-year traffic growth, including its all-time highest traffic of 1.5 million website visits in a single day. In addition, CollegeDekho drove marketing automation on huge data sets through on-demand infrastructure. They have also supported 400 academic counselors simultaneously using a Learning Management System application to direct students toward the right colleges. “We were able to reduce our page crawl speed by over 30 percent after moving to AWS,” says Saurabh Jain, cofounder at CollegeDekho.

Meanwhile, leveraging multiple Availability Zones has led to a robust redundancy policy and has given company leaders confidence in the high availability of data and services. “Hosting on multiple Availability Zones helped us achieve almost 100 percent uptime over the last few months, even in extreme cases of data center failures. Our customers are now able to browse through our site more reliably and efficiently,” says Arora.

Security has also improved. “AWS provides a highly secure infrastructure that works on a default-deny firewall policy,” says Jain. “Hence, we are assured that data and apps are well protected.”

Finally, building on AWS is helping the company achieve its mission of providing free college admissions counseling to every student in the country to help them find the right college match. “One of the reasons we are able to counsel students for free is because AWS offers affordable services and a pay-as-you-go model,” says Arora. “We have maintained a catalog of over 36,000 colleges and are actively working on automating parts of the counseling process. This will help us achieve the growth and reach we imagined.”

Going forward, Arora says CollegeDekho will continue to use AWS EdStart for technical assistance and support, and the company is looking forward to leveraging additional AWS EdStart initiatives like architectural reviews, founder dinners, and investor connections to drive continued success.

Arora and team also plan to explore AWS services like AWS CodeCommit and AWS CodeDeploy to fully automate infrastructure scaling and development across the company’s product portfolio, and they hope to eventually extend CollegeDekho offerings into other countries. “In addition, we would like to learn about various AWS artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services and run our AI/ML models on a data lake in AWS,” says Arora. “That will help us improve our understanding of the customer and increase predictability.”

About CollegeDekho

CollegeDekho developed a discovery platform that matches education seekers with education providers. The company also provides a range of student services, including free counseling, information on loans and scholarships, and end-to-end admissions assistance.

Benefits of AWS

  • Auto scaling supports 300% year-on-year traffic growth
  • Reduces page crawl speed by over 30%
  • Enables redundancy and achieves almost 100% uptime
  • Scales to support as many as 1.5 million website visits in a single day
  • Provides highly secure data and apps

AWS Services Used

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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Amazon Simple Storage Service

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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AWS EdStart

AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) startup accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions on the AWS Cloud.

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