By Matt Pross, Staff Writer
When Zach Hraber set out to develop custom software to streamline the application process for the University of Pittsburgh’s Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program, he didn’t know that it would result in an industry-redefining model of how medical school admissions were managed. Hraber also wasn’t planning on his work evolving into a full-fledged tech company, but once word got out about the custom solution he had built, the wheels were in motion. Now, 10 years later, Hraber’s company ZAP Solutions, can call more than 30 percent of all medical schools in North America its clients and has real potential to grow this market share further in the wider graduate school market.
“I am always looking for ways to help make people’s jobs easier,” Hraber said. “When I built the original application, I didn’t realize that the entire market was still mostly paper-based and encompassed a very manual, cumbersome process. After we completed that project, we were contacted by the Medical School at Pitt to develop a similar custom system.
“From there, I started to think that there might be a market for this type of product at other institutions,” he explained. “So, we set out to build a new, scalable web-based product on our own that we could take to other schools and show them how we could streamline their admissions process as well. “After some door knocking and lots of demos, we started to receive more and more inquiries from other medical schools (like Yale and Harvard) and AMP was born.”
Founded in 1997, ZAP started as a one-man show, with Hraber providing technical consulting and Web-based application and software development services for clients such as Mullen and other local advertising agencies. After his breakthrough in the medical school admissions industry, Hraber began to organically grow his company from the individual consulting level to now employing more than 20 full-time. ZAP’s paperless admissions platform, AMP, is used by nearly 50 public and private medical and graduate school programs in the U.S. and Canada to streamline prospect and admissions work-flow management, web-based interview scheduling, scanning functionality, admissions intelligence, decision support and reporting.
“We’ve focused most of our attention on the medical school niche to date, but we feel that AMP is suited to streamline and manage any complex admissions process,” explained Daniel Gbur, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at ZAP Solutions. “Nobody else does what we do in the medical school space. The larger graduate school market does have several established players, but there is definitely room for us to grow into this market with our paperless admissions solution.”
“We are very hands-on with each client we work with,” Gbur continued. “We also offer a full complement of professional consulting services to build, support, implement/train and integrate our software to fit the unique business/admissions process of each institution and admissions office.”
“While developing or enhancing the admissions system, the analysts at ZAP Solutions worked with us to fine-tune each and every detail. The team is willing to provide input and work with us until we achieve a desired result,” Katie Lewis, the Assistant Director of Admissions from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, said.
According to Gbur, ZAP currently installs its end-to-end admissions solution locally within each client’s server environment, but may consider expanding to a SaaS model in the future depending on client demand.
In addition to its AMP-based business, ZAP continues to work closely with several local corporations and agencies acting in an outsourced technology development capacity. The firm also specializes in engineering custom software, CMS implementations, databases, Facebook and mobile applications, and websites, providing consulting expertise across a variety of development platforms and languages (Microsoft-based as well as open source solutions).
Equipped with its array of in-demand expertise and the firm’s already impressive foothold in the medical school admissions market, Gbur is confident that ZAP will continue to grow on all fronts, expanding AMP’s footprint across the graduate school admissions market while also adding custom development business as well.
“While our growth has been significant over the last two years, it has all been organic, planned growth with no detriment to our clients,” he said. “We feel we are very well positioned for continued growth and can handle any size implementation while still remaining nimble for our existing clients.”