Decatur tech company vies for national grant
By Dena Mellick, Associate editor
A growing Decatur technology company is asking for some hometown help to win a small business grant contest.
TJ Murphy, co-founder of Gradschoolmatch, said the Decatur company needs 250 votes from Facebook users by Friday, to be considered by a panel of judges. The winning company will be announced in September.
“The purpose of the grant is to help us hire,” said Murphy, citing recent growth within the company.
Five employees, including Murphy, work at Gradschoolmatch.com in the Fairview building on West Ponce de Leon Avenue.
The website caters to universities and prospective students, working to match students to the right graduate program.
Murphy, a university professor himself, developed the idea with co-founder Brian Clark, after noticing a need for such a website.
“I’m a professor at Emory and for a while I was running a graduate program there, a PhD program. I just had this thought that it would be nice to go onto the internet and search for students who had the right background and interests,” Murphy said. “It really was as simple as that – there should be a much better way for us to recruit students.”
So Murphy and Clark created Gradschoolmatch, which now has about 500 admissions programs from 70 universities.
“It’s really a bidirectional search tool,” Murphy said. “So a student could come onto the site and enter some information and match to programs that fit them. And that works really well. Or they could do custom searches to try to identify the program that works for them.”
Students use the site for free, and universities pay to use the site to identify potential grad students.
“Most people are surprised to learn that half of all college graduates go on to grad school, and most of the other 50,000 program directors in the U.S. have my problem,” Murphy said.
He said, just like finding a job, often finding the right graduate program is about building relationships and make connections.
The Gradschoolmatch website explains, “We put an end to blind applications and facilitate introductions to help find the best fits.”
Murphy, who lives in Decatur, said there are advantages to having a technology company in Decatur – the city itself attracts a young talent pool.
“I think these guys absolutely love it. I think that’s the bottom line,” Murphy said. “They love the idea of living in an apartment in Decatur and being able to walk to work. We say we have the best corporate cafeteria of anybody in the world. We have all of these restaurants that we’re able to walk to when we all go out together to have lunch someplace.”
It’s a selling point that will come in handy if Gradschoolmatch wins the grant and puts it toward hiring more tech talent.