February 7, 2020

Growing in ALX: Featuring Signal Vine

From retail and restaurants to tech and media, contractors to coworking spaces, large, small, and everything in between, a diverse array of businesses call Alexandria home. In our blog series, Growing in Alexandria, we sit down to talk with businesses around the City to learn more about who they are, what they do, and why they love it here. Have an idea for a business in Alexandria to talk to? Email us!

 

Educational technology (or ed-tech) is a growing industry sector in Alexandria, and Signal Vine is part of that movement. The Alexandria-based company is the leading Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered messaging platform transforming how higher education leaders reach, support, and engage students. We sat down with Jeff Mutimer, Chief Growth Officer, to learn more.

 

AEDP: Ed-tech! One of the most promising and exciting industries today. To start us off, please tell us a little more about Signal Vine and your place in the ed-tech world.

 

Jeff: Signal Vine provides an artificial intelligence (AI) powered text messaging platform. Our customers are higher education leaders who communicate with thousands of students. They create personalized messages in our platform using data from their student profiles, then schedule automated campaigns to reach the right students at the right time with the right message. They can either continue the conversation 1:1 with students or use automation to continue to handle frequently asked questions. It’s our patented Blended Messaging® approach.

AEDP: How did it get started?

 

Jeff: Our business got started when doctoral students Ben Castleman and Lindsay Page from Harvard University conducted a research study to prove that text message communication with students could improve matriculation and persistence (11% and 20% increases, respectively). They conducted the research using software that would become the Signal Vine text messaging platform. Brian Kathman, our CEO, then founded the business, first in Del Ray and then we moved to Old Town North where we now work with more than 300 college access and higher education institutions to improve student engagement and, consequently, matriculation and persistence.

 

AEDP: How do you measure success at Signal Vine?

 

Jeff: We measure success by the impact our customers have. When partners like the University of Texas, Austin see a 98% student engagement rate, or the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission realizes a 9% increase in retention, we know we’re making a difference and succeeding as a business.

AEDP: Do you have a favorite charity that you like to support?

 

Jeff: We’re big fans of the Child & Family Network Centers (CFNC) in Alexandria. They share a common mission in helping get students to and through school. They work with preschoolers, and we pick up in high schools and colleges. In fact, we launched a campaign in 2019 to drop our “swag.” Instead of buying pens, mugs, or giveaways for our conferences, we take every dollar we would have spent and donate to CFNC. We tracked our progress here.

[Note: The Child & Family Network Centers was previously featured on Growing in Alexandria- their blog can be found here.]

 

AEDP: And how would you describe the Signal Vine company culture?

Jeff: Our culture is definitely collegial. We work in an open office environment that reflects team-centered discussions and access to leaders. We’re also a mission-driven group of “textperts” who are eager to make a difference in higher education and student equity and success.

 

AEDP: Finally- why Alexandria, VA?

Jeff: At first, we located in Alexandria because our CEO was a resident, but we’ve since appreciated the growth in education- and technology-centered businesses that are growing as a result of Amazon’s HQ2 selection of the area. Higher education institutions like Virginia Tech, George Mason, George Washington, and UVA are all creating a presence in the area that provide access to our customers and high-tech talent.

 

To learn more about Signal Vine, request a demo on their website or visit them at 811 N. Royal Street.