Innovator of the Week
Founder & President of Higher Ed Profiles
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
Higher Ed Profiles is a 100% hosted Business Intelligence enterprise reporting solution for universities and colleges. Higher education institutions have tremendous demands for reporting data about students like graduation rates, SAT scores, and application yields. Unfortunately, stretched IT budgets and overwhelmed staff limit their ability to adopt typical high cost on-premises enterprise reporting tools. Instead, an institution sends us their data, and then authorized users see dynamic reports that fulfill the institution’s reporting requirements. The deans, department chairs, and vice presidents enjoy beautiful and dynamic graphs and tables, and we help them grow a culture of data driven decision making.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
I live in Portsmouth, and we are swimming in entrepreneurial talent. Before I launched the company, I cast a wide net and met with dozens of investors, small business owners, and start-up specialists. Although I felt like drinking from a firehose, I knew I had a lot to learn about everything: sales, hiring, business development, marketing, accounting. The best part is that most people are excited to help out and happy to give advice and make connections. Locally, Alpha Loft has been supportive both in terms of direction and also workspace.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
Enterprise sales, especially to higher education, are challenging. We’ve been forced a few times to rethink the product and the message. However, since we are lean and agile, we are able to pivot and provide the customer with what they need (as opposed to what we’ve built or what we think they need). We also need to continue to exercise patience as our customers take their time to understand us, trust us, and engage us. Now we’ve gained traction, we’ve signed up colleges, and we are excited to build on our success. Getting the first few customers was a huge challenge, but they are happy customers and ready to help us spread the word.
What’s the best advice you have received?
When we started, we had assumed that colleges would immediately appreciate our product and its value, and sign up in multitudes. Luckily, a few mentors reminded us “It will take twice as long and cost twice as much” to get to market as we had planned. That helped us set realistic funding and development goals. We always keep in mind that the potential client might value everything about the product and might want to make a commitment, but a myriad of issues from budgets, turf disputes, and red tape can delay closure. We maintain patience and diligence, however, and in the end achieve a happy result.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
My family enjoys the mountains for skiing, hiking, and camping. We are so lucky to live close to the beaches, the mountains, and lots of great food.
What does the future look like for your company?
2016 looks like it is going to be a great year for Higher Ed Profiles. We have settled on product, pricing, and we are building a strong network of excited customers. We continue to enhance our product, and we are looking forward to help more higher education institutions.
Connect with Eric on LinkedIn!