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Black Tie International -Crowdfunding 1 2


Global Education. The Help you need.. 



Startup aims to revolutionize university application process globally;
runs crowdfunding campaign to launch

GradTrain connects students with their “future me”
 to guide them through the process of studying abroad

If everything goes well, the founders of GradTrain will have the budget to launch their startup, and will have made Internet history along the way. GradTrain is a startup company that is developing an online platform to advise prospective students on applying to graduate school abroad.

GradTrain was founded by five friends from five different countries who felt that studying abroad changed their lives, and seek to help the next generation of prospective international students.

GradTrain presents an innovative solution to a real problem.
Foreign students often lack critical knowledge and the personal and professional networksto understand the application process. This is also evident from a survey GradTrain ran among hundreds of respondents from over 50 countries. As a solution, GradTrain is building a community of prospective, current and past international students who can share experiences and minimize the uncertainty associated with studies abroad. GradTrain is also developing data-based tools to help students make better decisions in the process.

GradTrain is currently running a private beta program for hand-selected coaches (under 100 coaches from diverse fields and nationalities). Throughout September it will open up the platform to a broader audience of coaches, who will be vetted and certified. In October, the peak of the university application season, GradTrain will be opening the platform for applicants to book coaching sessions. Following that, it will launch algorithm-based decision-making tools, such as an
acceptance-predictor and an application scheduler.

GradTrain is a Social Impact Startup

Over the past years, a new breed of companies has emerged – those who are socially minded from the get-go to create a social impact beyond the bottom line. GradTrain is what is called a “for profit social impact startup,” or a “double bottom line business.”It measures its success not only through revenues and bottom line, but also through the social impact the company is able to achieve: does GradTrain keep services affordable? To what extent does it broaden access to global education? Is GradTrain able to bring talent to target countries and help young, ambitious global people fulfill their potential in a new land? To further these goals,GradTrain has pledged to dedicate a portion of the company’s earnings to scholarships for international students.

GradTrain’s Fundraising Strategy

In order to launch, GradTrain requires a relatively low investment of $500K. But the really interesting part of GradTrain’s fundraising plan is the decision to raise the first $30K through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a new form of fundraising, where individuals and companies present their projects on a designated website, and request the crowd to contribute to it in return for various perks, ranging from a thank you note, through personal acquaintance with the founders, to pre-purchases of GradTrain’s products to naming the GradTrain scholarship.“Based on our vision, we wanted our first funding to be based on the power of the internet to mobilize people across the globe and to increase the opportunity of many individuals to participate in a solution to a problem,” says Jacob Bacon, former advisor at the United Nations and currently GradTrain co-founder and CEO.“It is also a community building tool that involves future users of GradTrain as well as people who care about global education, and allows us to engage with them and start a conversation and collaboration towards a common goal.”

Beyond past, present, and future international students, (or their parents) who want this service to exist in order to use it GradTrain’s contributors are people who believe in the positive impact of global education – and want to be part of the GradTrain effort and ensure a better future for young, ambitious people
 from all around the world.

To learn more about GradTrain,
readers can visit the project's campaign page here:




The GradTrain story:
why make your own mistakes
when you can learn from others?

We are five friends from five different countries, who went through the journey of studying in another country. Studying abroad changed our lives. Not only did it help kick off our careers, but it is now also an undeniable part of our identity.
We want other people to be able to do the same.

For years we have been approached by friends, friends of friends, and even people loosely connected (or not) to our network. They sought advice on how to find and get into graduate school abroad. We have also heard many stories of people who missed their opportunity to obtain a graduate degree abroad. We ourselves witnessed the challenges of finding information and choosing programs abroad, and decided to create a solution. We decided to be the solution. That is what GradTrain is all about.

GradTrain is the first international web platform designed for people who want to attend graduate school abroad. GradTrain provides guidance from people who are what you want to be in a few years. People who understand your background, language and culture, and really care about your success.

GradTrain revolutionizes
 the international application process

To find out what people need, we ran a survey among hundreds of current and past international graduate students from more than 50 countries. Based on this survey, we are building an online platform that will:

  • Connect prospective students with coaches who share a similar background to theirs, who have been through the process and can guide them
     to fulfill their potential.

  • Provide sophisticated algorithm-based decision making tools that will help people make decisions based on data, and not on gut feelings.

  • Revolutionize international education, by minimizing information gaps, and allowing all students to fulfill their potential.

Deployment Plan

  • GradTrain is currently running a private beta for hand-selected coaches (under 100 coaches from diverse fields and nationalities).

  • Throughout September we will open up the platform to a broader audience of coaches, who we will be vetted and certified
     (interested coaches can registered at:

  • In October, the peak of the university application season, we are opening the platform for applicants to book coaching sessions.

  • Following that, we will launch algorithm-based decision-making tools that we have lined up, such as an acceptance-predictor and
    an application scheduler.

    Why contribute to Gradtrain

1. I am a past, present, or future international student (or a parent of one).
 I want GradTrain to happen so I can be a coach or use the service myself.

2.I'm not an international student but I want to help one.
This page makes it so easy to help!

3. I really care about global education.
 I want to put my money where my mouth is. 

4. GradTrain is the next big thing. I sense it,
and I want to be able to say that I gave the seed money for it. 

5. I love the idea of social impact startups. Companies that care about their social impact and not only about their bank account
 is a refreshing concept I want to encourage.

6. I believe through international study we bring talent into this country,
and GradTrain is a great way to enable talent get here.

7. I was deeply impressed by the idea and your hard work,
 and want to help you fulfill this dream. 

What we need and what we will do
with your contribution

If we meet our $30,000 goal, with your generous help, we will be able to:

  • Enhance our prediction algorithms for school acceptance
     and cover more fields of study

  • Fund the GradTrain scholarship program for students
     who cannot afford the full cost of studying abroad

Our perks are designed to make you a part of this initiative
 and to connect you with the stories of real students.
Your support will allow us to help students in their journey
for international education!

If we exceed our goal, we will be able to do a lot more and provide tailored guidance for additional fields of study and additional geographies around the globe, as well as provide additional scholarships for students at need. We will also be able to build more specialized tools to meet the needs of international students.

Our goal is to transform
the field of international education
We believe that enabling more people to study abroad is the key to solving many global challenges. There are too many barriers in the face of a person who wants to study abroad, and GradTrain will remove many of them and
make the process much less of a guessing game.

Studying abroad opens people’s minds and exposes them to new cultures. Being a foreigner is a humbling experience that makes people understand more about minorities in their own country. If we can empower more people to fulfill their goal of studying abroad, the world will be a better place with more acceptance of differences and better understanding of others across the globe. It will enable a cross-pollination of ideas and innovation that will be better distributed worldwide. 

GradTrain is a social impact for-profit venture, and we will measure our success not only by the company’s bottom line, but also by the social impact we are able to achieve. Our services will be affordable and we will dedicate a portion of our earnings to scholarships for students at need.

Other Ways You Can Help

Even if you can't contribute you can still help!

  • Get the word out and make some noise about our campaign. Go to and share the GradTrain love!

  • Share the Indiegogo campaign using the link at the top of this page (below the video)! Here it is again just in case: 

  • Share the campaign offline via our QR code.
     Print it out, add your personal endorsement and hang it up - at your University, in your building, in the subway - anywhere you go!



Contribute to our campaign and share it with your networks - you will have our eternal gratitude for making this happen and helping ambitious and intelligent people from across the globe fulfill their dreams and aspirations
 through studying abroad. 

Together - we can make a real positive impact for generations to come!

Truly yours,

The GradTrain team


We would not have been able to launch this campaign without the help of dear and important friends who helped us with sharing their own personal stories, helped us fine-tune the message, and supported us along the way. Special thanks to Moshe Laniado Peleg, Hadas Ben Sasson, Jette Lundgren, Menachem Katz, Klara Stefflova, Natalia Urrea, Sarvenaz Bakhtiar, Claire Chen, Gillian Albert, Mei-Tal Nadler, Ophir Bar Zohar, Sanjeev K. Mahto, Ayanna Samuels, Luo Jing, Akiva Miller, Alana Shultz, Brian Batts, Noa Reindel, Hagit Stauber, Tzvika Avnery, Ori Harel, Katie Klein, Christian Fink, Osnat Stimatzky, Larry Price, Barak Bard, Tom Dow, Assaf B. Spanier, Yossi Goldman, Ilana Nesher, Arik Marmorstein, Amir Hirshfeld, and Chris Wong. We would not be able to get to this point without you, and appreciate your continued support very much!

GradTrain in the media:

Forbes: New website gradtrain helps international graduate students

Black Tie International Magazine: Startup aims to revolutionize university application process globally

Jerusalem Post: "Hop on the GradTrain, next stop a far-off campus"

The GradTrain team

 includes five founders, originally from five different countries: The United States, Israel, France, Switzerland, and Norway. We have all been successfully enrolled in various graduate programs at leading universities worldwide, and cover the fields Computer Science, Law, Engineering, Organizational Behavior, Public Health, and Sociology. Our team is augmented by a lead developer. We are passionate about helping aspiring international students fulfill
their personal and professional goals.
We are here to help you!

Jacob Bacon (M.A.). Co-Founder and Chief Executive

Jacob Bacon (M.A.). Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Organizational Change Management expert, until recently a special advisor to the Assistant Secretary General and Chief Information Technology Officer of the United Nations. Jacob holds a Master’s degree in Labor Studies from Tel Aviv University in Israel. He has led large technology implementation and organizational transformation projects in global organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, and has a vast experience in leading projects from the idea phase to successful implementation.


Lital Helman (S.J.D.).

Lital Helman (S.J.D.).
Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer

Academician and Israeli-accredited lawyer, specializes in Intellectual Property Law and Cyber Law. Prior to her legal education, Lital taught C++ programming courses at “Hacker Software,” Israel. Lital pursued her Master’s and Doctorate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a Fulbright scholar, and her post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University Law School. Lital’s articles have been published in the USA and internationally, and she has served as an expert advisor on international Intellectual Property litigation.

 Raphael Sznitman

 Raphael Sznitman (PhD)
Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer

Expert in the fields of computer science, statistical modeling and applied mathematics. Raphael received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and his Masters and PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in the USA. Raphael serves as a post-doctoral fellow at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.
Raphael holds two US patents (130,258, 535,497 (pending)).

Sharon Rodner (PhD) Co-Founder

Sharon Rodner (PhD) Co-Founder

Expert in Social Science research, surveys and analytics. Sharon is a lecturer at the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa and the Assistant Director of the International Leadership in Global Health Systems Program. Sharon received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Manchester in the UK, and her Master’s and PhD in Sociology from Stockholm University in Sweden. Sharon completed her postdoctoral research at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the
University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Josue Sznitman (Dr.Sc.). Co-Founder

Josue Sznitman (Dr.Sc.). Co-Founder

Assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion); founder and director of the Technion Biofluids Laboratory; co-founder of the Technion Portable Biomedicine Laboratory. Previously, he has held research and teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton University. Josué holds degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Josué serves as a current member of the MIT Education Council and holds US patent no. 6,663,177.

Roy Ben-Sasson. Lead Developer

Roy Ben-Sasson. Lead Developer

Until recently, worked as a senior developer and team leader at Israel’s number 1 bank. Joined the GradTrain team to lead the effort of building our technological platform. Expert in software development and information security. Proficient in numerous programming languages with over 20 years of experience
 in software development and design.



joyce brooks, gerard mckeon.  photo by:  rose billings

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