Learn from the Best
In this video, Joe Price, from the Acton MBA Class of 2009, and his business, AcademicWorks, are a day away from having their first customers “go-live” with the company’s software system. Its web-based platform allows institutions of higher education and community foundations to develop a comprehensive profile of student qualifications and financial need that can be used to efficiently match students to scholarship and grant opportunities. Along with his two co-founders and development team, Joe has been able to use the tools he learned in the Acton program to build his business.
Joe first considered running his own company while working for a startup after college, on his way to law school. He put the idea aside through three years of law school, a clerkship, and a job in business litigation with an Austin law firm. Seeking a more well-rounded life and more time with his family, he describes his thought process, “Okay, what can I do differently…what I really wanted to do was start my own company…and how do I get there?” That’s when he enrolled in Acton.
Joe got his MBA in 2009 and immediately took a job which put him in the middle of a technology stream, in a position to look for the right opportunity. In late 2010 he and his team identified their opportunity and, under a year later, AcademicWorks is moving from launch to the growth phase.
He described his typical day for our interviewer:
So I usually get in about 8:30 in the morning… My main function is I oversee all implementations and customer service…We’ve hired a Director of Implementations and Customer Service that actually starts next week but it’s just been me, and of course [my partners] and everyone else supporting and helping where they can, but they all have their own silos that they’re working in. So I’m talking to the customers that are going live and particularly over the past couple weeks, it’s responding to a bunch of emails from them – “This doesn’t quite look right” or, “Here’s an issue that we’re concerned about” – and calls with our existing customers and the beta participants, walking them through different aspects of the system, getting feedback from them. I’ll spend my morning doing those meetings, taking notes and making sure we’re tracking who wants what functionality. And then I’ll have my other responsibilities…I’m General Counsel so I’m doing all contracts. So I usually have a contract or two that I need to look at every day. I also handle our finance so anything accounting-related or just getting out invoices, things like that, I spend a portion of my day doing on a regular basis. And then I also handle the HR function. So we’re hiring people right now, doing background checks – just doing all those administrative things. So anyway we all wear a ton of hats right now. I mean that’s just how it is and it is honestly sometimes pretty hard to shift gears as much as we all are shifting gears during the day. But that’s probably a typical day right now and in a month that typical day will look totally different. And it looked totally different a month ago, so you know…
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