One of two founder stories from LaunchTN’s recent partner trip to Johnson City, Tennessee.
RPL University, a startup based in Kingsport, has a mission to help students and recent alums create meaningful connections. In a time when many feel intimidated by the professional world, RPL pulls back the curtain and displays the most positive realities of mentorship. The organization houses a full-service platform that helps users assess, strategize, and implement the tools needed to tear down the barriers of intimidation and create a foundation that emphasizes the power of human connection.
LaunchTN had the chance to sit down with Lauren Glass, Co-Founder, to learn more about RPL’s recent transitions and future goals for its app.
At the young age of 18, Lauren Glass founded the non-profit Beds4Kids, a non-profit organization that worked to provide beds to kids in need across four states. Later, Glass founded THROW, a for-profit home. goods company that provided a percentage of proceeds from every item sold directly to Beds4Kids. Glass made her exit from both companies in 2017 to pursue new opportunities, including RPL.
What was it like to go through the exiting process before starting RPL?
I didn’t ever see myself exiting, so it was actually really difficult. I was dealing with some personal items, and I think I realized I was really tired and a little burnt out. I like to frame our story that it wasn’t this glamorous type of situation that some people imagine. There wasn’t a simple, “Hey, I’ve created this, and now I’m gonna exit.”
The process was quite bumpy, though it really did work out. You just never know what you don’t know, and you don’t know what’s gonna happen. So you just have to take that experience and use it for what you’re doing next.
How did RPL come to fruition?
RPL started out as a web-based platform that we used to connect students and alums with mentorship opportunities. We started by partnering with ETSU, because that’s where I was when I felt like I just wasn’t getting enough real world exposure to career opportunities. The driving mission came from there, because my mentor was so pivotal in my life when I started my previous company. I wanted to make sure that other people had the same type of opportunity.
RPL started to evolve into people using the platform to recruit also. They would make strong relationships with their mentees and then, of course, have job opportunities to offer. All of the sudden, we realized – I think we have a unique recruitment platform here.
What sets RPL apart?
They say you’re not supposed to compare yourself directly to other startups, but I see RPL as sort of the Bumble for recruitment. To get fast traction, we have partnered with universities for now to quickly attract a pool of their students and for RPL to avoid having to do all the marketing on our own.
I think most people have had the experience of scouring LinkedIn or Indeed for a job and wishing that you knew someone in the company you’re looking at so that you could talk to someone. After personal experience, I can imagine that a lot of talent doesn’t get through on these platforms who should be getting through. My ultimate vision for RPL is that everybody has equal opportunity in their job applications.
We want to build the network these applicants need to achieve the job of their dreams and ensure that they get an opportunity to at least have a human tell them no or let them know how they can improve their chances. I just think that recruitment needs to take a step forward with something like RPL while stepping back into the personal territory.
We believe that socioeconomic status, geographic location, and “who you know” should never limit the exposure and guidance you receive on the road to your dream career. We also believe that networking and career coaching are two of the most important things you can invest your time in. With RPL, we give you the space to do both.
Amazing! What’s next for RPL?
We’ll launch all of our new recruitment features around September or October, and the process has been awesome. Right now, we’re partnering with ETSU, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and The University of Texas at Austin. We also have a few more groups on our waiting list.
We’ve kept it highly controlled up to this point, but we’re planning a launch for this fall. With that, there will be no more “test groups”, which is exciting.
With that said, I think that we’ll continue to outgrow what a university wants to commit to, but we want to be student-led. I think we will always have some strong university partners, but I think eventually the platform is going to become more driven by the people who are hiring.