By Nate Doughty – Reporter

December 09, 2021, 11:28am EST

Strip District-based Niche, a company that provides users with a platform of rankings on schools, colleges and places to live, announced two new executive team appointments following a year-long hiring spree that has increased employee count by more than half.

Andra Smith joins the company as its first general counsel and corporate secretary. With more than 15 years of experience running legal departments, Smith has worked at companies like KAYAK, OpenTable and TicketNetwork. As general counsel and corporate secretary, Smith will be tasked with crafting privacy and compliance initiatives in new markets, overseeing the company’s corporate governance and internal processes and developing a series of best practices aimed at continuing to scale the quickly growing company. Smith will also serve as lead counsel for all of Niche’s commercial and financial transactions and will serve as secretary on the company’s board.

Morry Mitrani will serve as Niche’s first vice president of growth and lifecycle, a role he’ll take on following previous work at online dating platform Bumble Inc. (NASDAQ: BMBL). Mitrani joined Bumble during the company’s early stage period and led its global user acquisition teams through an acquisition by Blackstone Inc. (NYSE: BX) and Bumble’s eventual IPO. He’s logged more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing, working at other companies like IT networking platform Spiceworks and advertising agency GSD&M, both based in Austin, Texas. At Niche, Mitrani will oversee the growth, lifecycle and brand marketing teams that support the company’s scaling efforts, implementing new strategies that aim to retain and grow the user base.

“I’m incredibly excited to have Andra and Morry onboard at such a pivotal moment for the company,” Luke Skurman, CEO and co-founder of Niche, said in an email statement. “Andra brings invaluable legal and corporate expertise that will allow us to scale effectively and adopt best practices in contracts, compliance, user privacy and more. Morry’s previous successes using newer platforms to engage a similar audience will help expand our reach and build our brand in the next phase of our business. I’m very much looking forward to working closely with each of them.”

The two new appointments come after a year-long effort of significant employee onboarding for the Pittsburgh company.

At the start of 2021, Niche had 156 full-time employees. Now, it’s at 241 full-time workers across 27 states, a 54% increase in headcount from less than 12 months ago. It’s also now up 20% in workers since September, which is when the company first surpassed employing more than 200 workers.

“The headline with Niche right now is that we have happy users, we have happy clients, we’re a successful Pittsburgh company that’s scaling and growing right now and really hitting the stride right now,” Skurman said in September. “And yes, we are hiring aggressively right now. We anticipate hiring another 100 people over the next year in all facets of the business — engineering, product, design, sales, marketing, all across the board — it’s a really exciting time in the company right now.”

Founded in 2002 and initially named CollegeProwler by then-Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business students Skurman and Joey Rahimi, the company has since evolved from its original form of publishing print guidebooks on U.S. colleges to one that posts online rankings of K-12 schools, colleges, cities, neighborhoods and companies throughout the nation. In April 2020, it raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Radian Capital and with participation from Salesforce Ventures, as well as the company’s existing investors; Allen & Co. LLC and Tim Armstrong.