Must Read Founder's Five March 2, 2023

Founder’s Five: Gregory Cianfarani, CORE Higher Education Group

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.

Greg founded CORE Higher Education Group in 2006 to solve a specific issue facing a specific category of institution.

Today, CORE serves more than 350 programs at over 190 colleges and universities throughout North America. They have a suite of six software applications to help manage the student journey continuum.

The company’s software supports recruiting, competency assessment, clinicals/experiential education, workplace readiness, and continuing education.

What is your company’s origin story?

CORE was started in 2006 to help colleges of pharmacy comply with several new accreditation standards that were coming their way. After interviewing contacts in the market regarding both current and anticipated needs, we felt an opportunity existed to develop a number of SaaS products to help them due to the limited nature of existing products in the market at that time.

How will the market be changed by your company’s success?

Our niche is the phase of the student journey when students leave campus and enter the workforce for the experiential or clinical component of the curriculum. We feel that CORE will impact the market by helping schools better manage the complexities of this process from an operational standpoint, help schools better prepare students for this phase, and help employers better identify the best and brightest students for potential recruiting.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you began?

I wish I had known the difficulties of selling into higher education. In higher education, many decisions are made by committee and the decision process can be lengthy. Buy-in from multiple stakeholders must be achieved. Although the college dean is typically part of the process and needs to sign off, ultimately, the departments utilizing the software have the greatest say in the process.

What non-intuitive insight have you gained through this work?

I learned the importance of pairing a quality product with exceptional customer service. When we entered the market, I felt offering a quality and comprehensive product alone would ensure success, but I quickly learned the service side is critically important.

Backing up the product with exceptional service is critical to ensure the product is implemented correctly, product utilization is maximized, product stickiness is enhanced, and a positive reputation within the market is developed.

Gregory Cianfarani

What other education company besides your own do you wish you had started?

I really admire Canvas/Instructure. They launched a great product into a highly competitive, complex, and saturated market and have succeeded tremendously. You must execute exceptionally well on many fronts to dislodge a competitor enterprise LMS that impacts so many stakeholders at a university. For a university to make that decision and take that step, there must be a giant leap in benefit, which indicates they must be doing many things right.