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Entrepreneur Journeys

Thought Leaders in Online Education: Karen Francis, CEO of Academix Direct (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 16th 2014

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 >>>

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Thought leaders in Online Education: Gary Matkin, Dean of Continuing Education, UC Irvine (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 16th 2014

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. >>>

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Identifying Customer Pain Through Consulting Services: Tealium Co-Founder & President, Ali Behnam (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Apr 11th 2014

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.


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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Todd Hitchcock, COO of Pearson Embanet (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 9th 2014

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.  >>>

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Building a Pre-IPO Company Over 10 Years: Centrify CEO Tom Kemp (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Apr 7th 2014

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. >>>

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Finding a Viable Monetization Model: wefi CEO Zur Feldman (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 2nd 2014

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. >>>

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Scaling a Pre-IPO Enterprise Software Company: Anaplan CEO Fred Laluyaux (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Mar 31st 2014

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. >>>

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Buliding a Venture Scale Analytics Platform Company: Birst CEO, Brad Peters (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Mar 26th 2014

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? >>>

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Building a Healthcare Company from Rhode Island: ShapeUp CEO Rajiv Kumar (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Mar 24th 2014

You wouldn’t think of Rhode Island as a hot bed of startups. However, a very nice eco-system is coming together, and success stories are emerging. Read ShapeUp’s wonderful journey …

Sramana: Rajiv, let’s begin this story by exploring your background. Where are you from? What kind of environment did you grow up in? >>>

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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sher Downing, Executive Director of Online Academic Services at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Mar 21st 2014

Much is changing in the world of education. Universities are becoming large scale providers in online learning. Arizona State University is at the fore of this trend, running one of the largest business programs online.

Sramana Mitra: Sher, let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to what’s happening at the Business School at Arizona State University.

Sher Downing: The W.P. Carey School of Business, which is at Arizona State University, is one of the largest business schools in the nation. This year, we have around 11,000 students in various business tracks that are both face-to-face as well as online. We also have some pure online degrees that we are doing across the globe. We focus on developing the ideal that business is personal. We want people to come out of our school with a real sense of entrepreneurship and ability to do a lot of different things in their lives. >>>

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