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Building a $10M Company Proctoring Exams Online: Don Kassner, CEO of ProctorU (Part 5)

Posted on Saturday, Feb 22nd 2014

Sramana Mitra: The large state universities are adopting this?

Don Kassner: Yes, it’s typically large state universities. There’re some private universities in there as well. Generally speaking, you’re going to see most of it in the lower level, general administration courses where examinations and assessments are more critical. As you get in deep to any program, the project starts to change. Generally speaking, the focus is going to be on courses that rely heavily on assessments. That’s all over the board. We have Liberal Arts, Math, Science, Healthcare, and many different disciplines.

Sramana Mitra: What about the MOOCs? How is that trend impacting you? Proctoring is one of their challenges. What possibilities are you unearthing there?

Don Kassner: We do work with both Coursera and Udacity. We haven’t had the chance to work with edX yet. The model for Coursera and Udacity is unclear. Coursera has gone through a process with the American Council for Education. We went through that process with them to allow their courses to be accepted for college credit. But it doesn’t appear that they’re having a lot of success because we don’t do a lot of proctoring for them. Udacity had a couple of programs in place where they partnered with some universities. We’ve done some work with them. Both of those, in terms of volume, are extremely low. I think in situations where identity and integrity of the test is critical, such as for the MOOCs, we’re a great solution. It’s unclear what their future is.

edX has a much different model. They seem to be partnering with universities in creating a platform and doing some interesting things. I think, long term, that’s an interesting channel for us. But right now, we’re not doing anything with them.

Sramana Mitra: Coming back to ProctorU, in terms of numbers how many are going through this kind of testing process? What’s the level of adoption of this at this point of penetration?

Don Kassner: In any given month, we’re working with 25,000 to 30,000 students. We’ve done over half a million exams. We’ve worked with 200,000 students and those numbers are growing every month.

Sramana Mitra: Yes, that’s very interesting. What else is interesting in your story in how you’re building the company?

Don Kassner: There’s also an approach from an organizational development standpoint. When entrepreneurs look at building a company, it’s important to identify what it is that you do. Don’t get distracted by other things because in the early days when you’re struggling for revenue, sometimes you’re distracted by revenue opportunities that don’t fit your model. You can get off course. It’s important, number one, to stay the course. Number two, the other thing that we’ve done as a company very early on is we established some core principles that we run the company by. We call them our pillars. There are four of them. They’re integrity, service, simplicity, and fun. Everything we do as an organization is built around those four pillars. What that allows us to do is make sure that we’re focused on the things that are the most important to us.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Building a $10M Company Proctoring Exams Online: Don Kassner, CEO of ProctorU
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