The Business Gay Podcast with Host Calan Breckon
The Business Gay
Meet Kelly: Your AI Student Advisor
Meet Kelly Your AI Student Advisor with Arjun Arora from Advisor AI

In this episode of The Business Gay Podcast, host Calan Breckon speaks with the founder of Advisor AI, Arjun Arora.

Advisor AI is a AI-Technology startup designed to increase student engagement and satisfaction by providing personalized academic guidance and career recommendations.

Based in San Francisco, Arjun is on a mission to empower every student to realize their boldest career dreams. With over a decade of experience in AI, enterprise software, and career advising, across Datarobot, Opentext, Robust Intelligence, and Drexel University, Arjun is committed to building a world-class, people-first, impact-focused company that provides high-quality career development insights to everyone.

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Key Takeaways for quick navigation:

  • [00:28] Advisor AI provides personalized career guidance through its platform, Kelly, aiming to enhance student success.
  • [02:32] Dropout rates are high in colleges, especially community colleges, due to limited career support.
  • [04:06] Advisor AI automates university tasks, boosting engagement and success rates.
  • [06:04] Main reasons for dropout: financial constraints and dissatisfaction, stressing the need for quality guidance.
  • [08:34] Advisor AI streamlines course selection, reducing decision time for students.
  • [11:08] Shorter decision cycles increase student satisfaction and retention.
  • [14:53] Advisor AI could aid high schoolers in transitioning to higher education.
  • [16:24] Advisor AI balances innovation with stability through collaboration and long-term partnerships.
  • [20:13] Arjun Arora highlights LGBTQ visibility’s importance in business.
  • [23:32] Advisor AI aims to partner with colleges, supporting over100,000 students within two years.
  • [25:44] Advisor AI plans broader university access, driven by stakeholders.


[00:00:00] Calan Breckon: Today’s episode is sponsored by Surfer SEO. Trusted by brands like Square and Intuit, Surfer SEO is a tool designed to help SEO optimize your written content, like blog posts and articles on your website. Instead of guessing what Google likes to rank, this tool offers you a data driven analysis of exactly what’s missing from your already existing content. Surfer SEO is constantly checking thousands of data points, analyzing its findings, and prioritizing that information so that you have the best chance of ranking your articles on Google. Surfer SEO also comes jam packed with AI technology. Their powerful Surfer AI tool allows you to streamline content creation by taking care of research, writing and optimization, saving you countless working hours each week. Once the AI is done writing the article, you get to go in and make all the edits you want to bring that extra special magic only you can do. Don’t leave your SEO strategy up to chance. Surfer will give you an SEO workflow to boost your organic traffic, increase your visibility, and improve your rank. Visit for more details or just click the link in the show notes. Now let’s get into today’s episode.

Welcome to The Business Gay podcast where we talk about all things business, marketing and entrepreneurship. I’m your host, Calan Breckon, and on today’s episode, I have founder of Advisor AI, Arjun Arora. Advisor AI is an AI technology startup designed to increase student engagement and satisfaction by providing personalized academic guidance and career recommendations. Based in San Francisco, Arjun is on a mission to empower every student to realize their boldest career dreams. With over a decade of experience in AI, enterprise software and career advising across Datarobot, Opentext, Robust Intelligence, and Drexel University, Arjun is committed to building a world class, people first impact focused company that provides high quality career development insights to everyone. AI seems to be the talk of the town these days and I cannot wait to learn more with Arjun. So, let’s jump in.

[00:02:12] Calan Breckon: Welcome to the show, Arjun. I’m so excited to have you. How are you doing?

[00:02:16] Arjun Arora: I’m doing great, Calan. Thank you so much for having me on.

[00:02:19] Calan Breckon: Yeah, well, I’m really excited. We’ve not really touched upon any AI stuff or anything yet, so far, too much in the podcast. So I’m really excited to dive into what you’re doing and what you’re developing. So can you tell me a little bit more about advisor AI and what you call Kelly?

[00:02:39] Arjun Arora: Sure. Yes. And I’m really excited to talk about AI and that’s been the bulk of my experiences and background. Advisor AI is really a company to help with student success. So we sort of start with the why is really to provide better opportunities for students to find the careers that they do want to move towards. And Kelly is our AI advising platform. So it’s a platform or an app that helps students with personalized schedules, personalized plans. Know, if I want a career in marketing, how do I get there? What are the steps to take? How should I draft my resume? What degree do I need? What skills do I need, what certifications do I need? Especially now, because there’s just so much information and so many options someone can choose from. And so what we try to do is simplify that process for the student to get the information, the insight, the support that they need to get to where they.

[00:03:42] Calan Breckon: I mean, it’s a little different here in Canada where I am, but down in the states and abroad, the whole university conversation is so overwhelming and exhausting, especially for young people. I had no freaking clue what I wanted to do or what was even possible when I was like 1617. And you’re being told you need to go and do all these things and figure it out now, or at least figure out something and go in some sort of a direction. So to be able to access the knowledge and have something, a system put it together for you and go, okay, these are your interests, these are some of your possibilities. It sounds really fantastic. Now I want to dive in a little bit more about how advisor AI helps the university side and then later on we’ll talk about more about the student side.

[00:04:33] Arjun Arora: Sure. Yeah. So kind of starting with baseline facts and data, right. Especially being in the data science space. I really want to start with the data aspect, which is almost 40% of students drop out in colleges in the US. And that trend actually is across the world that the dropout rates are pretty significant. I think we just don’t know that or no one talks about it because all we see is sort of the trends in the premier institutions, right. And what is happening in Ivy League colleges where retention or enrollment is not really an issue.

[00:05:10] Arjun Arora: But if you think of the other tail, right, the 95% of state community colleges, other degree programs, that is a fact. Where it’s typically between the 40% to 50% range of dropout.

Secondly, the support available at these institutions is limited. So it’s fairly common that there’s one career advisor or counselor to support with career decision, career plans, right.

Per thousand students. So the ratio is typically like one to 1000, which if you really think of it, the core focus is to develop the skills in a university so that you find the career or the opportunity or the employment that you really are passionate about and want to do, and that support is not available.

[00:06:07] Arjun Arora: It’s very limited.

And so how we’re really helping the university is by augmenting the existing resources so the faculty, the advisors that are there can automate a lot of the initial planning tasks.

[00:06:24] Arjun Arora: And that’s how our tool is helping them with. Instead of having five discussions to get someone to a given point, you can have one really meaningful discussion and let an AI tool help you augment that process. And essentially what that leads to is the students become more satisfied, they find more meaningful opportunities, they’re more engaged with the classes that they are taking because they see sort of an end goal. And in that sense, we’re also helping universities with driving student engagement, with driving student success. We’re driving better retention.

[00:07:05] Calan Breckon: Okay, so lots of stuff to unpack here. I had no idea that the dropout rate was so high. That’s kind of insane. I’m just thinking out loud here, like just pondering what that could be, whether that is difficulty and not understanding and not having the support that they need to feel like they can finish with. Also a mix of, is it a financial part? Like, I’d be curious to see what the stats are in regards to that, if you have those.

[00:07:35] Arjun Arora: Yeah. So in terms of the primary reasons, you’re spot on.

[00:07:40] Arjun Arora: It is either a financial reason where they’re not able to continue or the second primary reason is lack of satisfaction.

[00:07:49] Arjun Arora: So I’m not finding a relevant degree. I don’t know what I would do here. If I did take entrepreneurship, if I did take marketing, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Or I was told by someone to take a finance degree.

[00:08:05] Arjun Arora: And that’s really not what I want to do. And that dissatisfaction leads to dropout in a lot of cases. And there’s also data that states that if you do speak with an advisor, the odds of you staying at the university increase by 13% per meeting. So I see, like, there is an issue, there’s also a solution, and the solution is not scalable right now.

[00:08:34] Calan Breckon: Yeah. And this is really important.

I went to a very unique high school. I would say we had 2500 students in Vancouver, where I went because it was so large of a student body. We operated a lot like a university would. We didn’t have bells, we didn’t kind of have your typical system. There was also extra kind of earlier classes and later classes depending on what you wanted. Just because we had to offer different options for people. So when it came time to choosing your classes, I remember that there were so many students and there was only a number of counselors that it was so hard for me to be like, well, what classes do I need to take? What classes do I want to take? And then how can they all maneuver together? Because if English is at the same time as this other class, I can’t take them in the same semester. But then next semester, they might not be offered kind of a thing. And so I read on your website that there’s actually systems that you’re building or that you have that can improve with course and curriculum awareness. So how does that actually work where it’s like, okay, I’m overwhelmed. I know I want to go into marketing, but there’s so many options.

Walk us through that.

[00:09:49] Arjun Arora: Yes. I think it sort of starts with what is the current process.

[00:09:53] Arjun Arora: And also looking back at my experience, so, typically there are 800 pages of curriculum check sheets and guidelines and course options available.

[00:10:04] Arjun Arora: And there’s 50 different programs I can choose from. And each program has its own 100 classes.

[00:10:10] Arjun Arora: So if I spent three months learning that, I would probably become great at figuring out what advice to give.

[00:10:20] Arjun Arora: But nobody has that much time.

[00:10:23] Arjun Arora: And it’s also an easy decision for the current advisor to make because they do have that background.

[00:10:30] Arjun Arora: And so what we’re really doing to make that decision simpler is we are teaching our system that. Here’s all the information on the coursework.

Here are the guidelines and policies you have to follow at the university. Now, give me a recommendation on entrepreneurship. So, now that the system knows that I am looking to become an entrepreneur, or I’m looking to become a data scientist, or I’m looking to become a teacher, it will suggest more relevant things to you over time. So you’re not having to look through 100 pages of information. You’re not asking a friend for advice who is not an expert by any means.

[00:11:16] Arjun Arora: You’re asking a system that has learned what is good advice and what is available and what is quality information. Because I think at the end of the day, it’s like the quality of information and insight really impacts the outcome that anyone is striving for.

[00:11:36] Calan Breckon: Definitely. And so are you currently working with or looking to work with any specific universities or educational institutions where obviously it’s publicly available information of what courses they offer? But how are you feeding your AI to get this information? In order to make sure that it’s referring like, this university has this class and it’s not offered at this other university to make sure that it’s all going to the right place.

[00:12:04] Arjun Arora: I see. So we partner specifically with each university one by one.

[00:12:10] Arjun Arora: So we partner with the faculty there and the advisors there to really understand what are the sources of information they’re using to make decisions. And they are sort of the experts in the field.

[00:12:24] Arjun Arora: So you have to start with who the experts are and how they do things currently to be able to build any solution of meaning.

[00:12:33] Arjun Arora: Whether it’s an AI system or any other system, you have to start with how do the existing team members, the faculty, make decisions so that we can teach the system the right method to give back an insight.

[00:12:49] Calan Breckon: Okay.

[00:12:50] Arjun Arora: And so it’s not just, I would say, more generic, publicly available information, it’s calibrated to a given university.

[00:12:59] Calan Breckon: Nice. And so what results have you seen so far with what you’ve been implementing? Have you seen any data coming in so far?

[00:13:09] Arjun Arora: Yeah, I would say so. A couple of key data points there would be that we do see that students can make a decision on if they’re undecided, for example, instead of having weeks spent on which major to pick and why to pick that major, we can shorten that cycle by weeks, right. So we can essentially provide a structured way to assess their interests and then give them recommendations that are available at the university. So that process is considerably shorter.

[00:13:45] Arjun Arora: And the implications there is that what we are seeing is it increases the likelihood of the student to stay at the university. So we actually saw almost a two x increase in satisfaction or retention.

[00:14:00] Arjun Arora: That I do want to finish my degree because not only am I moving towards a marketing career, but now I know the skills I need, I know the job options, I know the compensation.

[00:14:14] Arjun Arora: So it’s giving them a data driven picture of what to expect versus if they’re in their senior year, they realize maybe there is not much opportunity or compensation is not tied to what they would expect.

[00:14:29] Arjun Arora: SEO. It’s giving them more data driven, informed decision making process there.

We’re also seeing that the awareness in curriculum increases. So I think this was a question you had asked earlier, is specifically that. So if I take an example of just my experiences in advising, right. I always wanted to become an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know entrepreneurship was an option.

[00:14:58] Arjun Arora: And if someone had recommended that as a program or a minor or a certificate or classes relating to that, I would have totally taken it.

[00:15:08] Arjun Arora: And I think it does two things. It keeps the student pretty engaged on the flip side, it helps the university increase enrollments and retention because they are also meeting a requirement that the student has.

And so what we actually saw is when we personalize suggestions for classes and degrees, we saw like a ten to 20% increase in awareness.

[00:15:38] Arjun Arora: So should you even pursue a master’s program? Should you pursue a double major?

[00:15:46] Arjun Arora: And by using a system to give that initial recommendation, it’s more scalable.

[00:15:55] Calan Breckon: And I can only imagine that working with students who if you only have one counselor for 1000 students, even if you want to bounce these questions off, because it’s sometimes just you want to bounce off the ideas and get some feedback. If you have to wait two, three, four weeks to get that one meeting, that’s like upwards of a month of waiting. And so you’re thinking other thoughts and you could come up with a completely different idea before you even get there and you’re like, you know what, I’ve already made up my mind. I’m already going to go do something else because I just didn’t have that access. So being able to use a system like yours to kind of get quick answers and then get you to a closer point so that during that waiting period you can still book with a counselor for a final kind of talk through, but you can still get a bulk of the answers up front. This is definitely important and I could definitely see this being utilized in high schools as well because that transition from high school and going into university, that pivotal moment would definitely be a huge utilization for a tool like this.

[00:17:03] Arjun Arora: Yes, I think high schools and also look at how I got into college and the degree selection process.

[00:17:12] Arjun Arora: And a lot of other individuals I’ve spoken with and researched over the last couple of years, that transition is difficult and it’s also a big decision to make.

[00:17:24] Arjun Arora: Like which career you’re going to move towards, especially now, there’s too many options.

[00:17:32] Arjun Arora: There are 50 different arts just within marketing.

[00:17:38] Arjun Arora: And you can specialize as much as you want and it can be overwhelming since 20 years back you had maybe 20 careers and you kind of knew what to do, what to develop on, what skills you need. And now everything is changing every six months to a year.

And we’re just trying to simplify that to a point that whether you’re early on in your college career, education career, we’re providing you with the structure and system to make a better decision.

[00:18:13] Calan Breckon: And that obviously comes with a lot of innovation, which is very crucial for being competitive, but building sustainably is also important. So how have you been able to strike a balance between fostering your innovation and still maintaining a stable operational environment for growing this business.

[00:18:36] Arjun Arora: I would say earlier on, every company is innovating extremely quickly.

[00:18:44] Arjun Arora: But I think an area that I’m really passionate about and what I’ve been focusing a lot on is being mindful.

[00:18:52] Arjun Arora: And that starts with how the product is built and used.

[00:18:58] Arjun Arora: So one example there is we are encouraging and increasing collaboration. Our focus is not to sort of specifically replace a given advisor. Right. That is just a. No, that’s also not what is useful, because you do need to speak with someone.

The technology or AI is just a means.

[00:19:25] Arjun Arora: Not the end. And I think that’s been a key focus where if you’re encouraging a student to go through this journey of deciding on a major or deciding on classes, we are giving them a step by step process. And a core part of that process is to go speak with someone, whether that’s virtually, whether that’s in person. But if you’re not meeting with someone, you’re not getting the right feedback.

[00:19:52] Arjun Arora: And so our system is not only sort of encouraging that, but we’re also giving the data to a student that here are questions you should go ask your advisor so that it’s even simpler for them that they are even more confident.

[00:20:09] Arjun Arora: So I think that sort of starts when I see sustainable operations, is to focus on the clients and the sort of specific users who are going to be using this day in, day out.

I think, secondly, it comes with just making decisions more slowly. So, yes, you have to make broader decisions about the company and the product and the hiring and the team quickly, but also moving slowly in terms of how this impacts them.

[00:20:47] Arjun Arora: And is this the right thing to do, not just as a company, but also for the client ethically.

[00:20:56] Arjun Arora: And so I think having guidelines and practices.

[00:21:00] Arjun Arora: Like starting off with, is this a longer term partnership.

[00:21:07] Arjun Arora: Is this something that we really see we want to continue the collaboration with.

[00:21:12] Arjun Arora: And that’s a way to make the business sustainable.

[00:21:17] Arjun Arora: Is by really thinking long term, by really thinking, how can we help a certain segment of colleges, which are maybe in the state system or public universities or community colleges.

[00:21:31] Arjun Arora: Like, if we were being involved and supporting their initiatives, is it a one month project or is it a two year or longer project?

[00:21:40] Arjun Arora: And it’s always, I think once you ask that question of short term versus long term, it makes it simpler to focus on the sustainable items.

[00:21:50] Calan Breckon: I’m a firm believer in building like, the pyramids. You need to have a real big base foundation. A solid foundation if you want your company to be around for the long term, like the pyramids have been around.

[00:22:04] Arjun Arora: That’s a great one. Yes.

[00:22:06] Calan Breckon: So I’m kind of curious. Have you ever run into any roadblocks on the journey? Kind of because of the LGBTQ status, because that’s one of the things we talk about in this show, is we come into different situations than our heterosexual counterparts come into. Have you run into anything like that? Maybe negative or positive on both sides?

[00:22:30] Arjun Arora: So many.

[00:22:33] Calan Breckon: You’re like, how long is this podcast?

[00:22:36] Arjun Arora: Yeah, I think a couple of three things that come to mind. I would say.

I’ll start with one aspect, which I think really was a factor that took me a long time to start a company, which is, you don’t see enough stories. I was born in India and moved here, like, 1015 years ago, and so I think it was still very difficult for me for a while to find more acceptance, to find the courage to share my ambitions, share what I was looking to do, and also get the right feedback and support.

[00:23:15] Arjun Arora: And because that was not available, it took me a really long time to figure out, develop the skills, develop the right mindset to move through it.

And I think it’s not one situation. Right. It happens over time. It happens across multiple conversations, personally. It happens across work conversations. It happens at events.

[00:23:39] Arjun Arora: So it’s very difficult to pick one point.

I think more recently in the last year, I would say I was also very vocal with the aspect of the challenges that I had faced and what led me to start the business. And I did get some sort of pushback on not perhaps calling out that I’m part of the LGBTQ community.

[00:24:04] Arjun Arora: And I think it’s always, like, something I had to decipher or think about, is. Is this relevant or not? And I think I came to the conclusion that it is relevant because it took me a really long time. And if I can share that message that it is okay to speak about your goals and ambitions, and it’s totally fine.

[00:24:28] Arjun Arora: It can help a lot of other people, and I’ve received sort of notes from hundreds of people in the past year on just thank you for sharing. It helped me. And even if they were not part of the LGBTQ community, it really helped them move through the challenges they were facing.

[00:24:48] Arjun Arora: And I think that’s the second aspect of the challenge I faced.

I think third positive one is really that there are some sort of folks that were very vocal that were doing events around entrepreneurship and LGBTQ community and that really helped to help me move to speed up the process of setting up a business and moving through things much faster than I would have thought. I think there’s both.

[00:25:27] Calan Breckon: Yeah, those are all good important parts. And that’s part of why I started this podcast is that I didn’t see any of that visibility on the podcasting charts. You saw entrepreneurship and marketing and business, but nobody’s standing up saying like, we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re doing business as well. Therefore, how are we, the queer business people, supposed to look up to other people and be like, well, I think I can do this, but I don’t really see anybody else in my community doing it per se, you know, of people, but they’re not being really too loud about it. Like Sam Altman. Chad GPT is massive, he’s gay. But that’s not like a forefront know. And so I think it is important, the choice that you made to stay, to step out front and say, no, this needs to be a part of it, because then later other people following me have somebody to look at in order to go, yeah, Arjun did it. Other people can do SEO. I’m really, I want to know now what are some big goals or hopes you want to achieve with advisor AI kind of in the next one to two years, do you have any milestones like set out?

[00:26:37] Arjun Arora: So I would say one year out, we’re aiming for partnering with 20 colleges across the US. And two years out, the most ambitious goal would be to partner with like about 40 to 50.

We already have a few initial clients and super exciting to see that in less than a year. But that would be really a key goal, is that scope of 20 to 40 colleges, which basically roughly would translate to close to, I would say, 100,000 students.

[00:27:14] Arjun Arora: So if you think of just typical population size, it would be around 5000 students. And so I think if we’re able to support and serve 100,000 students on their academic and career journey, I think that’s a big success. And that’s really what led me to start the company.

[00:27:42] Arjun Arora: Is to provide the necessary tools to broaden the access of career advice to everyone.

[00:27:53] Calan Breckon: Can I ask how many schools you’re currently working with?

[00:27:57] Arjun Arora: We have a few. I would say we have a few partnerships, more under the under five.

[00:28:05] Calan Breckon: Got you.

Can students currently use your system now? Like if they were to go to your website or something, could they use it not only in those five universities, but could it be still broadly used in a sense to get. Is there like anybody can go and use the platform right now kind of a thing?

[00:28:24] Arjun Arora: Not yet. So they should definitely reach out because I think it will give us insight into where we are seeing the questions coming from and someone from the team will definitely reach out to follow up. But right now we are partnering specifically university by university SEO. We really want the initiative to come from the university stakeholders, right? So from the advisors, from the faculty, from the deans, from the leadership to support student success.

[00:29:02] Calan Breckon: Awesome. Well, where can people go and find out more if they just want to know more in general or they work for a school or university that might want to implement this program.

[00:29:11] Arjun Arora: So our website is So feel free to read more about the product, about our mission and the team, and they can also contact us through that, which basically will automatically help us figure out who would be the best from our end to connect you with that is the best route to take. We also have a LinkedIn, so feel free to message via LinkedIn, but that’s the best route.

[00:29:41] Calan Breckon: Awesome. And I’ll make sure that those links are in the show notes for anybody listening who wants to check it out.

[00:29:46] Calan Breckon: Arjun, this has been absolutely phenomenal. Thank you so much for being a guest today.

[00:29:50] Arjun Arora: Thank you so much Calan, for having me on. It was a really great discussion and wishing you the best.

[00:29:56] Calan Breckon: I think had this been around when I was in high school, looking at all the options that I had, my life trajectory would have been so completely different. I’m so grateful that somebody is out there helping solve this very important problem. Thank you for tuning in today. Don’t forget to hit that like and subscribe button. And if you really like this episode, you can go on over and give it a star rating because good vibes, the business gay podcast is written, produced, and edited by me, Calan Breckon. And if you’re looking for some SEO advice, head on over to or just click the link in the show notes. That’s it for today. Peace, love, rainbows.

Calan Breckon
Calan Breckon

Calan Breckon is an SEO Specialist and host of "The Business Gay" podcast. He has worked with companies such as Cohere and Canada Life and has been a guest on the "Online Marketing Made Easy" podcast with Amy Porterfield as well as featured in publications like Authority Magazine and CourseMethod.

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