Welcome to Fall and the 2nd installment of our Founder Feature Series for 2019, where we chat with the founders of the 7th Cohort of The Mentor Network to learn more about them as individuals, as well as their entrepreneurial journeys. They have great wisdom and experience to share with the rest of the community and could likely use your help as well!
Today, we would like to introduce you to Claude Harris, Founder at College Coaching Network. College Coaching Network is a Virtual Scholarship App that provides 24/7 chat support. The mobile guidance counseling experience helps students with college planning and prepares them for meeting admission qualifications. Universities host virtual booths on the platform and provide scholarships to qualified students.
Besides being accepted into Cohort 7 of The Mentor Network, Claude was a Digital Sandbox grant recipient, YMCA Spirit of Service, YMCA Pacesetter, ElevationLab Tech Ventures graduate, and a Pitch Perfect alum through ECJC!
What did you do before you were the Founder of your startup?
I was an Assistant Vice President of Investment Banking at Commerce Banking.
Why this startup? A.k.a. what is your ‘why’?
I had a 3.875 GPA in high school and only scored a 17 on my ACT test. My mother almost depleted her 401k to cover 1 year of my college expenses. I was never told the importance of my ACT test and wish my guidance counselor would have prepared me more for college. I wanted to create a program that would enhance the guidance counselor experience.
What was your first milestone/win that let you know you were on the right track to building this business?
The YMCA Young Achievers Program allowed us an opportunity to pilot our program with their students. We went on to win multiple awards through the YMCA and our Spirit of Service Award was such a beautiful event, that I knew that we were on to something bigger than myself.
Why did The Mentor Network stand out to you as a positive program to be involved with?
I need people who could hold me accountable and who understood the best go-to-market strategies. We needed support that could help me think beyond local and expand my horizons towards national and even international.
What have your big wins been so far within The Mentor Network?
We have two amazing mentors one of our mentors works with an Award-Winning Global Digital Marketing Company that has given us a tremendous amount of insight on how to scale like a fortune 500 company. This insight would cost thousands of dollars and some pay millions to implement some of the concepts we are being introduced too. The CEO Circle has allowed us to get involved with other CEO’s locally and mastermind through tactical issues. The group’s accountability and camaraderie have shown to be invaluable resources to our company and has given us strength and fortitude to diligently move forward.
How do you maintain sanity in this crazy, insane startup world?
Structure and self-discipline. I wake up every morning and devote time towards personal growth, I read every morning, exercise and plan out my day. I feel this time that I spend each morning anchors me for the turbulence each day may bring.
KC has so many resources and people to help entrepreneurs. What are we still missing? What gaps do you think we need to fill?
I’m so new and I’ve experienced so many great resources, I’m probably the wrong person to ask this question too.
Regarding the KC startup ecosystem, what has been your favorite service/resource that you would like to share with other founders to take advantage of?
If you could go back to the day you started this journey and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?
Relationships are currency and I don’t neglect building relationships with everyone I come in contact with.