Founder’s Five is a continuing series from Tyton Partners that invites education company founders to shed light on their own success and illuminate the landscape for other education entrepreneurs and investors by answering five basic questions.
Gregg launched CampusLogic in 2011 (his third start-up,) with the goal of transforming student financial aid from a series of manual, paper-based, complex processes into a mobile, simple, and personalized experience.
CampusLogic delivers SaaS technology to nearly 800 colleges and universities that works to remove barriers in the financial aid process and support students’ financial success. The CampusLogic platform includes a net price calculator, complete scholarship management, personalized digital communications, simplified financial aid verification, 24×7 personalized virtual advising, tuition and scholarship crowdfunding, and integrated data visualizations. The company has received multiple awards, which include the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Inc. 5000, and Education Technology Insights Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Solution Provider. CampusLogic was acquired by Ellucian earlier this year.
What is your company’s origin story?
I’ve worked on improving financial aid processes most of my career. Earlier In my career, I implemented the financial aid module of large student information systems, consulted on financial aid process efficiency, and managed the largest financial aid outsourcing contract in the US. Over the course of those experiences, I continued to be frustrated at how lousy the student experience was and how much friction existed for students across the entire financial aid experience. By the time we launched in 2011, mobile interaction was reality and highly secure, public cloud services like AWS and Azure were readily available. In hindsight, it was the perfect time to launch cloud software products oriented at removing friction across the entire student financial aid experience.
How will the market be changed by your company’s success?
I think it is obvious now that financial friction is the number one barrier to enrollment and degree. Our products make it easier for students to navigate all the forms and workflows associated with the maze of loans, grants, and scholarships that students use to pay for school. And all of this is delivered via an intuitive, mobile interface. I’m really proud of the fact that we will remove the financial friction and increase access for over 4,000,000 students this year.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you began?
I think every entrepreneur knows they need to hire top talent at every position, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the power of hiring an executive team that is just so much better than I am in their respective roles. When I started the company, I was head of product, marketing, sales, and finance. I wasn’t great at any of those jobs, but I learned to be good at recruiting and finding amazing people who wanted to join the cause. I’ve been fortunate to attract and work with incredible people who have done all the heavy lifting over the years.
What non-intuitive insight have you gained through this work?
I think many vertical software markets, including within education technology, end up being much bigger than people originally think. When you really go deep on understanding and solving for a set of problems that affect one buyer inside of an organization, you can constantly build and deliver new features and products for that buyer that have never existed.
I think TAM analysis for early-stage investors is almost always a fool’s errand. What early-stage investors should be underwriting is a founding team’s ability to constantly innovate and create ever expanding value for their ideal customer profile.
In other words, if you can figure out how to quantify creativity and ambition, that would be a better indication of market opportunity than the basic TAM analysis most investors do. I think the early-stage investors who passed on CampusLogic because they thought the market was too small would now concur that they were looking at our ultimate market opportunity through the wrong lens.
What other education company besides your own do you wish you had started?
Two answers to this question. First, I loved what Preston Silverman built at RaiseMe. When I first met him 6 or 7 years ago, I told him I wish I had started that company. But thankfully, we were able to buy RaiseMe a couple of years ago and bring it into the portfolio.
Second, I don’t think this company or organization exists yet, but America needs more entrepreneurs who want to take ambitious swings at the world’s biggest problems. High growth companies with healthy cultures can influence the world at large, communities, families, and individuals more than any other institution in my opinion. But we need more company builders, and I don’t think higher education today is equipped to 10X the number of ambitious entrepreneurs tomorrow. We need an entrepreneur factory. Someone should build that.
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