On Failure and Following Through

About a year ago I had an idea brewing in my head. Get rid of paper road cards and replace them with a system better than the current scanner tech on the market. I’ve sat through countless college fairs as a student and alumni representative of my alma mater—students hate them. It’s not a secret. I have also probably entered thousands of road cards as a student employee. I hate them. And so, I thought there had to be a better way.

I’ve got a serious passion for higher education enrollment management. I love marketing. I have an MBA. What better way to combine these things than by creating a business product that solves a problem in the higher education industry?

So I went about building a team. As a team, we went about creating detailed financial models, extensive technical specifications, and exhaustive marketing analyses. We met with institutions and school counselors in person, online, and over the phone. We got lots of feedback but one overwhelming response kept coming in: this is fantastic.

And so we entered a business competition because we needed some money to hire a developer. And also, why not enter a business competition?

Well. We lost. Like, didn’t-make-it-to-the-second-round kind of loss.

And six months later I’m here--finally okay with the fact that we lost--writing about it.

After we lost, the reality of losing really set in. I didn’t know how to respond, personally. The product sat in a state of stagnation for the entire summer. Sure, we still had some great conversations with schools and reps and continued to refine our pitches to always be prepared for that random angel to give us a call. But I personally struggled with how to move the company forward.

As I come up on the date when the idea first hit me, I’m reminded that this setback will be the first of many. A strong competitor will enter the marketplace. Development will be delayed. The team will change. The idea will evolve.

That’s the business of starting something. But the real business is following through.

Over the past three years I’ve made significant connections on both the institutional and corporate side of this industry. As leadpath moves into its next phase with renewed energy, I just want to extend thanks to everyone who has offered advice along the way, whether it was business strategy, product development, or simply allowing me to ping you with a million questions. It meant—and means—a ton and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

And if version 3.0 doesn’t come to fruition in the way I hope, well, I suppose I’ll just keep following through.

#EMchat & #SCcrowd Take on #ReachHigher!

We’re excited to continue to bridge the divide during this week’s #EMchat—and what better week to do it than during #NACAC14! We’re teaming up with the #SCcrowd (School Counselor Crowdsourcing) group for a dual Q&A chat. School counselors from all over have been prepping questions to ask EM pros about the admissions process, financial aid, and higher ed in general. AND, this is the perfect opportunity for EM’ers to do the same (just in the opposite direction).

We’ll be prepping a few questions for the chat, but from the looks of things it doesn’t look like there will be much work needed on the MOD end this week (thanks, school counselors!).

This chat  is also timely as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher (check out #ReachHigher) initiative continues to gain momentum, inspiring students (and families) across America to take charge of their future by pursuing post-secondary education. The initiative promotes the President’s North Star goal that challenges America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.


As education professionals, we know that this goal can’t be accomplished without strong collaboration across the eduspectrum. Join school counselors from all of #K12 and other higher ed professionals as we help one another in creating better processes, promoting ideas, and improving our education system.

We’ll be using the #EMchat hashtag during our chat on Thursday at 9PM ET, but make sure you use both #EMchat and #SCcrowd during the week as we continue to source questions for the chat!

My co-mod for the night will be Ross Wolfson (who you should be following!), founder of #SCcrowd. Read all about him here!

#EMchat Hosts Render Experiences!

render logoWe’re excited to have the Render Experiences team joining us for this week’s #EMchat. Not familiar? You should be!

As summer comes to a close and we head into travel season, your institution should be thinking about more than how they're represented on the road. Fall is a perfect time to reassess and redesign your physical campus experience for those students who have taken the next step in checking you out. Why offer them anything but your best? Here's how Render helps:

render experiences

Render’s mission is to optimize the campus visit experience as an avenue to meet enrollment goals and recruit best-fit students, and they're joining us this week to talk about their vision and work with over 600 campuses.

Join us this Thursday at 9PM ET as we chat with Render Consultant, Brittney Joyce – Bring your questions, bring your experiences, and bring a beverage (I’ll be enjoying a perfect blend of Dogfish’s Punkin and 90IPA)!

In the meantime, if you’re heading to this year’s NACAC 2014 Conference, be sure to schedule your 10-Minute Render Rap Session!

Cheers! Alex

#EMchat: An Online Panel Discussion on Predictive Modeling

We’re pushing this out pretty early, but for really good reason. Over the last few years, there has been a push for #EMchat to branch out beyond the chat. So, we developed the blog. Then we started holding tweetups (locally) and at conferences. Then the push came for an Unconference-esque #EMchat. We’re still working on that.

But to get there, we’re testing out something new and hope you’ll join in.

On May 8th at 9PM EST, we’ll be holding our first chat via webinar. We’ve teamed up with the great folks over at Rapid Insight to hold a panel on predictive modeling. If you’re not familiar with Rapid Insight, here’s just a sampling of what they do in the higher ed realm.

Predictive modeling has been a popular topic for us in the past, but we also usually get a bunch of questions in addition to those planned. This panel will give you the opportunity to talk directly to some of the #EMchat data gurus as well as professionals who work with data on a daily basis.

Our panel will parallel the approach taken by Rapid Insight in their #DataTalk series, except, well, we’ll probably have beer involved.

While the panel will certainly offer you the opportunity to directly as questions, we’ll also source questions up to the event, making every attempt possible to answer as many as we can.

The experts panel (as we’re deeming it) is currently being built, but we will be sure to update this post with our panelists as we sign them on.

Make sure you submit any questions you have about predictive modeling in the comments section below so we can work them into the chat!

See you (literally) on May 8th!

Thinking about joining? --> #EMchat: An Online Panel Discussion on Predictive Modeling