Sramana Mitra: You are bringing in students from different countries together, and you have some sort of a social media element to your platform. You have teachers and experts from different domains on that platform who can operate across the school boundaries.
Warren Barkley: It’s not quite like that. Basically, as a teacher, I have a class. I have this big virtual space. I can split it up in a lot of different ways. I can posit questions into it. It does have a social media piece to it. I wouldn’t say it’s a rendezvous to Discovery Point. It would be two teachers who knew each other on Twitter saying, “Let’s get our classes to work together on this stuff.” >>>
Sramana Mitra: So about 2008, you were done with HP?
Terry Ryan: That’s when I started the current business I’m running. I had successful exits in the 90s with companies in which I was an early employee but I wasn’t a founder of those companies. I had some nice exits in three or four cases before I started Knightsbridge. Fast forward to 2008, I sat down with HP management and said, “I think if I point my guns in one direction for the next decade, I can move this battleship and make a difference. At the same time, I think I can make a bigger difference going out and building my next company.” I politely gave them all the time they wanted. I decided I was going to take six months off and think real hard about what I wanted to do next. I wanted to build on what we did in the Knightsbridge days, which was build world-class data warehouses that solved business problems. I wanted to take the next step, which was not only to do that, but also to own and build the software and solution set that provided great business value for the clients.
Entrepreneurs are invited to the 242nd FREE online 1M/1M roundtable mentoring session on Thursday, December 18, 2014, at 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST/9:30 p.m. India IST.
If you are a serious entrepreneur, register to “pitch” and sell your business idea to Sramana Mitra. You’ll gain straightforward feedback, advice on next steps, and she’ll answer any of your questions. Others can register to “attend” to watch, learn, and interact through the online chat.
According to local review site researchers, nearly half of all local searches happen on local directories and mobile apps. The researchers have also found that 72% consumers trust online reviews as much as they would trust a personal recommendation from a real person. The strength of the local reviews market is improving competition in the industry.
Urban Compass is trying to disrupt the real estate industry with a tech-savvy brokerage model. They have raised $70 million and are currently valued at $360 million based on the last funding round. Listen to Robert Reffkin explain why he thinks the company will dominate the industry.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised, and in what kind of background?
Robert Reffkin: I’m from Berkeley, California. My mom is an Israeli and my father was African-American. I grew up in a mixed race household with a single mother. When I was younger, I went to an entrepreneurship program called the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. It helped me create a disk jockey business in high school. I was actually a DJ in high school and college, which paid for school. It was the foundation of a lot of the entrepreneurial drive that has carried me since I graduated from college.
Warren Barkley: One of the things we’ve seen worldwide is this movement in the pedagogy where teachers want to have very small bites of information which have project work attached to it. Then they let the kids work on that project inside or outside the classroom. A lot of teachers want that kind of learning to continue outside of the classroom when they go home. In providing that virtual learning space, it allows kids to work with whatever media they want and they can do their homework all together at the same time. It’s something that we see in many different countries.
Sramana Mitra: We are seeing this as well. Everything that you said are trends we are seeing as well. One thing that I picked up in your answer that I want to double-click down on is I imagine you work with K-12 mostly, right?
Warren Barkley: That’s right. We do have a little bit of higher ed, but almost 90% is K-12.
Sramana Mitra: They were very heavy. I’m a very small woman having to carry this heavy laptop. It was no fun at all. What was the first company?
Terry Ryan: It was called Knightsbridge. It was a company that was focused on Big Data architectures. This was in the early 90s before it was cool like it is today. It was focused around data warehousing, business analytics, and information management. I built a consultancy that was about 750 people with a global client base headquartered in Chicago. I did that with three partners. It had a lot to do with my background and focus. We were in most industries. We really focused on doing the most high-end data warehousing and analytics build out there in the industry.
Sramana Mitra: You built a contract software company around the data warehousing area?
Terry Ryan: We call it more of a management consulting. Our average bill rates were around $235 an hour across 750 people. It wasn’t a body shop.