Snowday Product Review
Democratizing access to educational consultants
by Liam Pisano
In the first of our product reviews, we’re highlighting a budding marketplace solution for parents of high schoolers. During and post the pandemic, there was a flood of emerging afterschool learning activities. Whether virtual or physical, these new opportunities collided with a parent base that now was more interested and aware of their children’s schooling than ever before.
Navigating this landscape became harder than ever and navigating it with the intent of forging pathways to higher education has subsequently become more expensive than ever. In a mismatched result of increased supply and demand, the process hasn’t gotten less expensive, but instead more complicated and costly than ever.
Snowday (Snowday) founder Lloyd Nimetz recognized this development. Working as an education consultant, he felt the inherent inequality of charging parents, on average, $5500 or more to build a winning resume for their child when it came to college admissions. He now wants that $5500 to become $55, and to even the playing field for parents across the country. He thinks he has the solution to make it happen in Snowday. Lloyd is a serial entrepreneur with a fascinating backstory that we’re pleased to share.
The Pain Point
It goes without saying that parents want the best for their kids. To put it simply, FOMO is real and time consuming when it comes to after school learning programs for teenagers. It often drives parents to seek outside counsel when it comes to finding the right options for their child. Without help, and with all the noise surrounding dwindling admission rates and ROI on degrees, the psychological barriers to higher education have become higher than ever. But advice costs money. A lot of it. And curation is often done inefficiently and by word of mouth, leaving some communities in the know, and some not.
On the flip side of the equation, AI is now driving an absolute explosion of content. The concept of clicking a button to generate a semester’s worth of curriculum is coming, and coming fast. This explosion is creating insecurity on behalf of both the parent and the academic consultant. “What am I missing?” is a question asked by both parties. And if I’m tasked with the care of a student’s pathway, what if what I am missing becomes crucial to their chosen course of action and outcome.
The pain point for both parties is obvious. How do we effectively and inexpensively highlight learning opportunities and validate their efficacy? There are great solutions that can do a myriad of things for the high schooler and alleviate stress on the parent. The challenge is putting them in the hands of the end user and creating an inexpensive “menu.”
Snowday’s mission is simple: let’s democratize the education consultant business.
CEO Lloyd Nimetz succinctly states: “It’s easy to find the best movie, the best restaurant, or the best place to buy your coffee — but it’s close to impossible to find the place to help your high school student better understand Shakespeare. The basic human right to a better education is being ignored today.”
So, what exactly is Snowday? Snowday is a free ratings and reviews resource that makes it easy to find the best fit out-of-school learning opportunities and gives students greater agency over their learning. In the current beta version of the site, Snowday provides detailed information on over 1,100 expert-vetted summer learning opportunities for high schoolers. In addition to unprecedented filtering capabilities — including filtering by location, cost, application deadline, and selectivity (and soon by program dates, eligibility restrictions, and more) — their web app has also curated more objective, third party information on every learning opportunity, including press, student videos, and reviews.
Snowday, along with a community of volunteer education consultants, school counselors, parents, and students, is expanding its inventory of summer programs and will soon also map the greater learning landscape of out-of-school learning opportunities including after-school programs, competitions, sports opportunities, and out-of-school courses (on and offline).
Snowday also has a small but growing collection of Learning Path videos, featuring college students who explain their unique paths to learning success. These short-form videos are displayed in a mobile-first, TikTok-like user interface where students can search to watch videos of near-peer role models by interest, e.g., investing, poetry, or even watch-making. Snowday is working to amass a very large and ever growing Learning Path video collection from a highly diverse group of near-peer role models.
On a personal level, in the humble opinion of the writer, I love this platform. As the father of a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old, I’m not there yet when it comes to high school. But expand this to elementary school age and I’m sold. Create a marketplace with pathways, give the time-sapped parent a helping hand. Done. I have participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for more than 20 years now and proudly count two wonderful young men as little brothers. For them, during high school, this would have been the holy grail. Like any marketplace, it needs populating, but Lloyd is definitely on to something.
The Story Behind the Story
Backing up just a bit, as with any startup, there’s a story to tell when it comes to the “why” behind the business model. Lloyd Nimetz comes from a family of educators and is all too familiar with the challenge of the24-hour-day that requires 30 hours of work that educators face today.
He is also a serial entrepreneur. After just one semester at college, he realized that there were massive inefficiencies in the way that his classmates purchased and disposed of couches on campus. A few months later, he had rented a storage facility and built a furniture reselling business that created less of a mess on moving day and put slightly used couches in the rooms of incoming students for a fraction of the cost of buying new. And thus a CEO was born.
A few years later he transitioned a Fulbright Scholarship into founding HelpArgentina, a not-for-profit that enabled US donors to learn about and back Argentinian charities with confidence. That business is still alive and thriving today, backing over 200 non-profits and enhancing their profile in the United States. The experience was transformational to Lloyd because, after 5 years in an operational role, he grasped the depth of the problem he was trying to solve. HelpArgentina, in his words, was a “lifetime” journey. He learned how to transition leadership roles and how to build from afar, and still sits on the Board of the organization 20 years after inception.
His entrepreneurial journey took twists and turns from there, as he experienced success and failure (at least in his words, I’d say his LinkedIn profile says otherwise) as a creator. He founded an online payment platform in India called QashCow, which was a cash-based pay-point solution for the 95% of Indians without credit cards. It was a moment in time that he describes as misjudging the market and being a bit ahead of the curve in terms of adoption.
He moved on to build Qrew, an EdTech social software startup for nonprofits, youth development programs, and corporate education programs to power their programs. After a successful exit, he then helped pioneer the bootcamp space in the early 2010s as a founding team member of Dev Bootcamp, which was acquired by Kaplan in 2013. You don’t need to be an industry insider to understand what that did for the developer community and the tech industry on the whole.
But it was his experience as the Founder of Spike Lab that led him to Snowday and its purpose. Spike Lab is a youth entrepreneurship program that specializes in coaching for motivated students seeking to develop innovation skills, deepen their sense of purpose and self-confidence, and develop a stand-out profile for college admissions. He describes this experience in humble and broad terms as being an education consultant. While Spike Lab has noble intentions and delivery, it’s evident that its development led him to believe in the potential of democratizing these types of services. As with many entrepreneurial journeys that we encounter, connecting the dots can at first seem bewildering, but a bit of diligence makes it all make sense pretty quickly.
Lloyd’s story and product is the first of many that we’ll highlight. While we won’t fund them all it makes for a pretty inspiring morning when you get the chance to listen in on the “why” and the “how” and spend some time thinking about if you can help.