Colorado State University
Physics and Mathematics
CRM Product Owner at Stand for Children
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Physics and Mathematics
Stand for Children is an independent political voice for students whose mission is to help all children get the excellent public education and strong support they need to thrive. To date, Stand for Children’s nine state affiliates (AZ, CO, IL, IN, MA, OR, TN, TX, WA) have won more than one hundred victories that have impacted the lives of more than two million children, including playing a key role in passing important education reform legislation in five states in 2010 and two already in 2011 (not counting Illinois). Stand for Children organizes parents, educators, and other concerned community members, builds broad coalitions, utilizes a range of communications strategies, and utilizes staff and contract lobbying capacity in order to:
- Enact education reforms at the state and local level - including reforms that increase teacher and principal effectiveness, support school autonomy with accountability, and expand instructional time --that improve student achievement and close the achievement gap;
- Help elect strong local school board members, state legislators, and statewide elected officials who champion public schools;
- Achieve strategic statewide K-12 investments and ensures local school districts spend those dollars wisely;
- Campaigns for referenda and needed school construction bonds and operating levies.
Sometimes things don’t last long enough.
It’s easy to find reasonable, rational explanations of why we couldn’t carve out a successful software company from the foundation of eROI’s successful creative services agency, but that doesn’t make it feel any better. Our tiny but massively talented development team made a serious go against serious odds and came up a bit of runway short, as we shut down the product team in December of 2010.
Not that there isn’t a lot to be proud of. Our processes for managing agile development efforts were top notch – our user stories were tight, we were nimble, powerful, with well tested code behind world class design, all with a well established team velocity that allowed us to predict success with tremendous accuracy. The features and underlying infrastructure we built were well conceived, delivered on time, and well targeted for the business problems at hand.
An assessment of the marketplace was made, one comparing real customer needs against our true velocity, with an insightful eye toward what the future would hold, and the conclusion was drawn that we didn’t have the funding required to deliver what we needed to deliver. So though the end came too quick, out of those efforts comes the confidence in having done something well, and having made good decisions along the way, however that may affect us as individuals. The energy from this team and what we were able to accomplish will be highlights for me for a long time to come.
Sometimes you have to go for it.
In 2007 I started memediakids.com to create a photo personalized publishing platform, enabling kids to become the main character in their own children's book.
The goal: well written, superbly illustrated, beautifully constructed hardbound children's books that create deeper context for kids by including their names and faces in the story, building foundations for a lifelong love of reading - all enabled by a browser driven personalization platform that mimics the burgeoning photo book industry.
With a small, agile development team, including members of Hot Pepper Studios and Fixative, we went live-beta at the end of 2007. While working with Jill Dryer to publish our second book (called "What if?"), we delivered bursts of features throughout 2008, finally realizing our goal with two amazing books available for full browser based, customer-driven photo personalization in October, 2008.
We've been featured by Daily Candy, Cookie Magazine and many others while making some very cool kids very happy across the country with amazing books.
StoriedLearning taught me, the hard way, that building a great product isn't enough. You have to know how to sell it too.
I knew Merat (co-founder) from my days at Enron where I worked for him as a Sales Engineer. Tiba was in the startup phase and he needed development help, including Sales and Marketing, making it the perfect opportunity to build some chops on both sides of the ball.
We built a small inside sales team and worked very hard gaining traction in the market, creating programs and growing relationships to build market share while developing new and innovative products. I got to use some of those Solution Selling techniques that we were just getting into at StoriedLearning, broadening my horizons on how to not only better control the sales process but integrate that process into your business practices.
I also spent a lot of time getting to know physicians and their needs, then working to translate those needs into products and solutions we could deliver at Tiba. It was also my first opportunity to do business in Asia - I very much enjoyed getting to know the Korean culture (and food!) and integrating that dynamic into the business mix.
The Storied Learning experience has been one of the real highlights of my career. I joined just after the Enron collapse, ostensibly as a Sales Engineer (I was a streaming media maven at the time). Through hard work and incredible resonance with the company's mission, vision and values, I quickly rose to join the management team as VP, Product Development.
We built an absolutely amazing product: story driven live action video content designed to open people up to deeper learning experiences, then filling that opening with actionable, incredibly relevant content. We were more efficient and effective at helping managers learn important soft skills as well as helping companies meet important corporate requirements such as Sexual Harassment training (developed in conjunction with Stoel Rives) and received astronomical user ratings and numerous industry accolades.
While I could have really benefited by knowing then what I know now about product development, our real struggles came with delivering this relatively nascent technology (pre-YouTube streaming media) into corporate environments and the post-9/11 economic downturn. We were definitely pushing the envelope, our sales cycles were long, and eventually we had to sell our assets to a larger, east coast learning company.
Our heroic $400k deal with Agilent saved the company, for at least a while, and the image of that check hanging on our bulletin board will stay with me forever (at that point I was a couple months behind on my paycheck and had a brand new baby boy at home!).
Lots of lessons learned: we really walked through the fire together and, while the script wasn't perfect, we came out stronger on the other side.
When I left semiconductors to join Enron Broadband Services, there wasn't a single person I knew that knew who "Enron" was. They certainly knew by the end...
EBS was a great experience. Though political, Enron was ultimately a meritocracy. For a young, inexperienced guy like me at the time, that was a boon.
After a good performance putting together a proposal for Real Networks (ultimately rejected by Ken Rice/Rob Glaser), I was called up to the big leagues to work with the leading sales team on what became a $100M winning proposal for MSN.
It was a rewarding and intense view into the most corporate of corporate America, building solutions with a variety of technical and business experts to create what became the biggest win in company history (albeit short-lived, with the now famous bankruptcy). In what was commonly a shell game, we delivered a real high value solution worth real dollars. In lieu of how everything went down, that win is still pretty satisfying.
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