Lake Itasca is known as the source of the Mississippi River and, similarly, the Twin Cities creators behind online college recruiting tool Mytasca want it to be known as a source as well, but for talent.

Bloomington-based youth marketing agency Campus Media Group works to help companies connect to college students through a combination of traditional, digital and guerrilla marketing.

The Mytasca tool is a different sort of offering for the company.

It is the brainchild of Chief Executive Tom Borgerding, who got the idea after he listened to a company recruiter at a conference voice her frustration on how difficult it was to keep track of the right campus contacts and students at schools.

Three years and several updates later, Borgerding presented last week at the same National Association of Colleges and Employers conference and showcased the new and improved Mytasca, which will go through another round of updates this summer after it first launched in 2014.

“If we can help [companies] make wiser decisions about where they are recruiting, they are going to have more success,” Borgerding said.

Mytasca has institutional data on 4,500 colleges and universities nationwide.

The tool helps employers identify which colleges to recruit from.

For example, it generates contact lists at schools including career center staff across departments.

In an update last year, Mytasca added more contacts that included staff at diversity, disability, veterans’ affairs and other specialized departments.

It also provides information on the breakdown of enrollment at different colleges.

Clients can use the search site to find aggregate data on enrollment by degree and also by demographics and ethnicity.

For example, if employers wanted to look for electrical engineers, they could see how many of those with a degree in that field are women or black, making it easier for companies to focus their diversity efforts, Borgerding said.

Mytasca standardizes data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. The list of college contacts is updated regularly by Campus Media staff.

The data that is available on Mytasca allow recruiters to be more targeted with their recruitment efforts, which is critical especially from a cost-saving standpoint, because it saves time and recruiters only end up traveling to schools that would produce the most results, Borgerding said.

“It seems like there is more and more demand for faster answers, faster solutions,” he said. “Big data is becoming more and more required for decisions these days.”

Clients have included Prudential, AT&T, Union Pacific Railroad and Citigroup.

Cottage Grove-based Werner Electric, which employs about 320 workers, started using Mytasca almost two years ago, Nathan Lewis, the company’s vice president of operations.

“From an HR standpoint, it has empowered us to be able to go to the hiring manager and say, ‘Hey, here’s a list of some schools that we think we should focus our recruitment efforts,’ ” Lewis said.

Finding a job candidate with an industrial automation engineering degree is very difficult, Lewis said.

But with the help of Mytasca, Werner Electric discovered that Iowa State University was a viable place to recruit students in that field, especially those of diverse backgrounds, he said.

“Our market, with the Targets, the 3Ms and the Boston Scientifics, there is so much competition,” he said. “It gives us other markets that we can do recruiting efforts that we haven’t considered in the past.”

The Mytasca subscription costs between $69 to $99 a month for companies.

This summer, the company is updating the search function to provide greater information about where the students are from, as well as information about school types and rankings.

Outside Mytasca, business for Campus Media has been as busy as ever.

About 21 million strong, with $545 billion in total annual spending power, college students are a huge consumer force.

As opposed to just putting an advertising message out and expecting potential customers to react, brands have had to be more creative with engaging young people, Borgerding said.

“There’s two different types of engagement that exist these days,” Borgerding said. “One is experientially, we want to create those types of experiences. … The second thing we do is on devices, mobile devices, tablet computer.”

Campus Media Group sometimes does mobile targeting with ads to phones within a certain radius of campuses, targeted e-mails, tabling events and more for brands like Subway, Neutrogena and Toyota.

The company — which started 20 years ago as a provider of an online publishing platform for college newspapers — has 16 employees and does a lot in the digital sphere with geo-targeted mobile advertising, campus IP-targeted online ads and other capabilities.

Digital products make up nearly 75 percent of Campus Media’s gross margin. The private company did not disclose its revenue numbers.


Twitter: @nicolenorfleet