Kempus aims to be the ultimate college hack sharing app

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Remember going through the reviews on Rate My Professors to find out which pro looks good and who easily gives As? The Professors and Class Assessments site is one of the few Web 1.0 sites still alive and kicking. When the portal was acquired by news streaming service Chedder in 2018, it had a monthly user base of 6 million.

Its long-standing relevance impressed Jae Lee, a South Korean serial entrepreneur who is US-educated and lives in Singapore, but the site is far from perfect. For example, identities are not verified, so there is no way to check the validity of reviews. After all, students see it more as an “entertaining” site than something serious on which to base their course decisions, Lee suggests in an interview.

Nevertheless, the popularity of indicates that students need a place where they can help each other with their college experience. Lee and his co-founder Danny Woo therefore started building Kempus, an anonymous online community for American students.

Specifically, Kempus aims to create a reservoir of knowledge to help students achieve their ultimate goal, in Lee’s words, “the upstream of earning a college degree.” That knowledge, or what the founder calls “a unique dataset within higher education,” can range from professor ratings to tips for buying used textbooks, housing reviews, and how to get advice on campus.

“We are democratizing the level of access to information, which starts with course assessments,” says Lee.

Founded in August 2022, Kempus recently raised $3 million in a seed round from Bithumb Korea, a major cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, though the founder says the company has no plans to associate with cryptocurrencies.

The reason for taking money from Bithumb, according to Lee, is that Kempus is essentially a data company, so “we chose to pitch our idea to a seed capital investor who had previous investments relevant to a data-driven company, including but not limited to blockchain, under their portfolio.”


A flurry of reports has shown that adolescents are especially susceptible to social media harm. While ambitious startups such as Fizz tout ‘safe and private’ social networks for students, getting investors interested in the ‘next Facebook’, Kempus positions itself more as a ‘community’ that uses the experiences and knowledge of students.

Users are anonymous, but their identities are verified through their school emails and they can only join their own college communities. To promote a safe environment, Kempus has created a self-governing mechanism that allows students to flag bad actors. “We are not that mega social media where we can hire thousands of people in the Philippines to moderate content, so the first layer [of filtering] is the community,” says Lee.

The second layer is Kempus itself, which rewards students with points for their substantive contribution. In doing so, the company wants to become the facilitator instead of the moderator or censor.

To attract early adopters, Kempus is reaching out to student associations and faculty members from all universities. It didn’t launch its MVP (minimum viable product) until late January, so it’s too early to tell if it’s found its product-market fit. While course reviews may sound niche, Lee thinks a narrow focus is precisely the startup’s strategic advantage.

“There have been several attempts to solve the problem of higher education as a whole… having to do with politics,” he argues. “We are not here to solve higher education as a whole. We try to focus on the bottom-up.”

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