We love student entrepreneurs who have managed to not only build successful businesses but have done so without dropping out of school. We also love entrepreneurs who have the discipline to get to a strong and sustainable monetization model early on in their evolution. Andrew Grauer scores on all fronts, and there is much to learn from this entrepreneur’s journey.
Sramana Mitra: Andrew, let’s start with your personal beginning. Tell us where you were born, raised, and in what circumstances. What’s the back story of Course Hero?
Andrew Grauer: I’m from the Bay Area of California. I grew up there my whole life. I went to college at Ithaca, New York at Cornell University. After being at Cornell, I came back. Course Hero moved back and continued here in the Bay Area.
We’re seeing the trend everywhere – companies building significant revenue and market reach with very few employees. Car Part Kings is approaching $10 million in revenue with 14 employees. Of course, WhatsApp’s $19 billion valuation with 32 employees is an extreme example of this trend.
Sramana: Michael, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where are you from? What kind of circumstances were you raised in?
Michael Dash: I was born in New York. I was raised in New York for half of my life before moving to the suburbs in Long Island. I went to high school in Long Island and then went to College at Tulane in New Orleans. I finished college in 2004 and then I got into real estate. I did real estate for 5 years and worked in financing, construction, project management, and all the phases of real estate you can imagine. >>>
Online Education continues to be a fast-changing field, and various people are working on various aspects of the industry to make a complicated puzzle come together. This conversation explores some of those pieces.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to you as well as Academix Direct and CourseTalk.
Karen Francis: My name is Karen Francis. I’m the CEO and Executive Chairman of Academix Direct. I’ve been in my position for just over four years and I come with a strong marketing and general management background. I was fortunate enough to be on the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth College where I got my undergraduate degree. I have a Harvard MBA. That gave me a unique perspective on education and on what’s behind the curtain of putting together an academic institution. I’ve always been very >>>
Gary Matkin has been involved with open education from the beginning. Here, he discusses the current issues and predicts the demise of Moocs. Read on for a fascinating insight into the future of open education.
Sramana: Gary, let’s set some context for our readers. Could you describe your role at UC Irvine and what you are doing for online education?
Gary Matkin: UC Irvine has been providing coursework online for about 14 years. My role at UC Irvine is Dean of Continuing Education, which covers all aspects of continuing education such as distance learning and summer sessions. Those units have provided the bulk of the online and open learning opportunities at the campus.
In extension, we offer 800 online courses per year. That is half of our offering to the continuing education audience. That audience consists primarily of working adults who are coming back to us to get additional education, change careers, or update their careers. Sometimes they are also there just to have some fun learning. >>>
Three years of web analytics consulting led Ali and his co-founder to identify a core customer need around which he is now building a high-growth, venture-funded company.
Sramana Mitra: Ali, let’s start with your own personal journey. Where were you born and raised? What kind of story leads up to Tealium?
Ali Behnam: I was born in Iran. Our family migrated outside Iran after the revolution. We actually ended up finding ourselves in France, which is where I got my high school degree. Later on, I came to San Diego for my college education at UC San Diego. I just fell in love with San Diego. Following my graduation, I decided that San Diego is where I want to spend the rest of my life.
The Higher Education industry is going through massive adoption of online education. This conversation highlights the trends, as well as areas where Pearson is looking for partners.
Sramana Mitra: Todd, let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to the Pearson Embanet unit so that we have some context set for the conversation.
Todd Hitchcock: Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with us today. I’m Todd Hitchcock and I currently manage our managed-program business at Pearson Embanet. I’ve been in education since 1990. I’ve been an educator myself and have run online programs. I came to Pearson just over six years ago to essentially build out our online learning strategy. Prior to managing our Pearson Embanet business, I was responsible for our US Higher Education online learning strategy and our content and courseware. >>>
Tom Kemp founded Centrify in 2004 with a PowerPoint financing of $7 million. The company managed to survive the terrible recession of the late 2000 decade and is on its way to an IPO. Here, Tom discusses the highlights of his journey.
Sramana: Tom, to begin, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is the genesis of your entrepreneurial journey?
Tom Kemp: I was born in Chicago. I grew up in Michigan and I went to the University of Michigan. Right after college, I decided to head to Silicon Valley. I started my career at Oracle and from there, it has been a series of startups. My first startup went okay and I learned a lot. After that, I did another startup called NetIQ, which went great and we went public. I was with that company for eight years and we got to $250 million in sales with a billion dollar market cap. >>>
8 million users and no revenue. What do you do? Find out from Zur Feldman.
Sramana Mitra: Zur, let’s start with your personal story. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of circumstances?
Zur Feldman: I’m originally from Israel. I spent all my youth in Israel. I ended up spending 26 years in different places in the US. Through different paths, which I can later talk about, I ended up studying in New York. My first degree is in Photojournalism and Television. I then went to Los Angeles and joined UCLA. I studied Business Administration and spent a big part of my time there – nine years. I made a switch from the diplomatic core into high-tech industry in 1986. >>>
This story traces the mechanics of scaling an enterprise software company that is close to $100 million in revenue in 2014, and is contemplating an IPO soon.
Sramana: Fred, let’s start out this story by learning a bit more about you. What is your backstory?
Fred Laluyaux: I was born and raised in Paris, France. I started my first business as a DJ when I was in college. I went to a business school in France between 1988 and 1992. I tried to launch a company around the music business and I was tempted to run that as a business. I enjoyed technology although my degree was in business. I did, however, do a training program in the US with a technology company as part of my college work. That is how I gained my passion for technology. I stayed in touch with the CEO of that company and he acquired the exclusive rights for their technology, which was developed by some folks from MIT and Harvard. >>>
Birst’s beginnings had many of the same principles that we espouse in 1M/1M, engaging customers in paying relationships early on being the foremost. Today, the company has raised four rounds of venture capital, and is growing fast as a regular Silicon Valley-style pre-IPO company.
Sramana Mitra: Brad, let’s do your back story first. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? >>>