One of eight Rise of the Rest finalists pitching to a panel of distinguished judges May 1 at ConnectWise, is campus engagement platform Presence.

Founded in 2012, the St. Pete startup is building “beautiful solutions to complicated problems” by using tools in its platform to increase student engagement and leadership, understand and improve retention, and encourage and measure student learning.

Reuben Pressman, founder and chief executive officer, and his talented team at Presence witnessed first-hand the lack of these kinds of resources on their own respective college campuses where they were leaders in student government, organizations, and student life. According to the Presence web site, they “found that increasing engagement, allocating funding, assessing involvement, and retention were just a few of the surface level problems driven by the lack of data, ability to collect and understand it, and the tools to take action”.

And so, Presence created the tools that would serve as solutions to those problems. Many of the staff come directly from the student affairs scene at the University of South Florida, University of ­­Central Florida, University of Florida, and schools country-wide armed with the experience and knowledge of how to create better communities, campus cultures, and student experiences.

Presence’s products allow institutions to digitally manage campus entities, organizations and departments, events and programs, and so much more – all while gathering resourceful data that helps increase participation. Retention is also improved through simplifying and digitizing processes, collecting, structuring, and analyzing involvement data.

Said Pressman of the ROTR competition, “[We’re] definitely excited. It’s not every day you get the chance to share your company directly with this caliber of investors!”

“It’s rare that there’s a massive audience to pitch in front of,” he continued, “I've only done that four or five times out of the thousands of pitches I've done before”.

Presence has an impressive list of more than 150 clients around the world, including California State University, Texas A&M, and Bowling Green State University. It is growing in leaps and bounds and being awarded the investment would help it continue that path.

Rise of the Rest takes place Wednesday, May 1 at ConnectWise, 4805 Independence Parkway, Suite 101, Tampa. Doors open at 4 p.m. with networking with ROTR delegation and open bar. A 4:30-5:30 p.m. fireside chat, with AOL founder/ROTR CEO Steve Case and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, precedes the 5:30-7 p.m. pitch competition.

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Cover photo courtesy of the University of Florida Facebook page