Starter Stories is a podcast that explores the origin stories of the world’s leading edtech companies and education consultancies...and the people who created them. In each episode, you’ll hear about the grit, the strategies, the wins, the failures, and the serendipity that transpired to take a half-baked idea and bring it to life.
Starter Stories Episode 24: Ben Congleton - Founder of Olark
In just a moment, you’ll meet Ben Congleton — Founder of Olark, a live chat software and data tool that serves colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes.
Growing up, Ben wanted to be a professor like his father before him. And while he completed both a bachelors and masters degree from Virginia Tech and started his PhD at the University of Michigan, Ben ultimately realized that he was a bit more interested in business than in higher education.
So he decided to pursue one of the many business ideals he had noodled on for a few years. After starting a webhosting company, Ben realized that there was a dearth of great website chat tools – and he had this vision of making chat software that was as easily to install on a website as Google Analytics.
And it was this idea that granted access to Olark (which was called Habla at the time) to Y Combinator, the most famous and prestigious of startup accelerators.
So, he and his founding team moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and that’s where things really started to take off. Tune in to hear the story of how Ben ended up living in Elon Musk’s house next door to an apartment that Mark Zuckerburg had rented and ultimately bootstrapped the company to success.
Episode 23: Cooper Jones - Founder of RahRah
In just a moment, you’ll meet Cooper Jones — Co-Founder of RahRah, a Community Engagement System that provides a simple solution to give students the inclusive and supportive experience they need to thrive while on campus.
When Cooper was 5 years old, he came back from Sunday school one afternoon and proclaimed to his parents that he wanted to be a preacher and a motocross driver.
And while these dreams shifted a bit as he grew up, he does have a passion for community building and Iron Man racing — so, hey, there’s some consistency here!
After studying finance at Oklahoma State, Cooper went to work in consulting at Accenture. And it was there that he was placed on a project serving a higher education client.
Working with this university opened Cooper’s eyes to the incredible challenges that today’s institutions face…and before too long, ideas for how he might build technology to help address these challenges began to percolate.
Tune in to hear the story behind how and why Cooper started RahRah.
Episode 22: Bev Ryan — Founder of Ologie
Recognized as one of Columbus' 30 most influential women by Business First, Bev continues to be engaged in the community, particularly helping aspiring women leaders become successful, and providing opportunities for young people to learn about the creative industry.
Tune into the exciting story of how Bev built and scaled one of the country’s most respected higher education branding and marketing agencies – working with brands like Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Purdue, just to name a few!
Episode 21: Chris Tsetsekos — Co-Founder & CEO of FuzeMee
Episode 20: Kavitta Ghai — Co-Founder & CEO of Nectir
Episode 19: Teresa Valerio Parrot — Founder & Principal of TVP Communications
In this episode, you’ll get to know Teresa Valerio Parrot, Founder and Principal of TVP Communications, a premier higher education communications firm.
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