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updated: 6/25/2012 1:30 PM

Learning technology business owners grow business

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  • Joe Gorup, co-owner of CourseAvenue LLC in Warrenville.

    Joe Gorup, co-owner of CourseAvenue LLC in Warrenville.


An interview with Joe Gorup, co-owner of CourseAvenue LLC in Warrenville.

Q: Describe your business. What do you do?

A: CourseAvenue is an industry leader in learning technology. Practically speaking, we help people create learning content that is accessible to anyone, including those with physical limitations. Also, we've recognized that in today's market, learning with mobile devices is a hot topic. As a result, we've developed a way to deliver learning content to any mobile device while also supporting desktops with one course.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: Honestly, we saw an opportunity to do learning a better way. We recognized that a large portion of the learning industry relied heavily on a few technical experts and programmers to create courses. We want to make it so anyone can create courses that are both affordable and powerful.

Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?

A: Paying attention to all the different hats you have to wear as a small-business owner. I call it plate spinning. You have to balance the technology and product plate, employee plate, marketing plate, support plate. You get the picture. It's a full day's work managing it all.

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: Definitely the transformation from an idea to a tangible product. I love designing something on a whiteboard, and then creating a product that thousands of people use. One of my best memories working at this company was when a woman told me that we changed her life because of our product. That's what matters.

Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?

A: In a way, yes. From the ninth grade on, I wanted to work with computers on the tech side of things. My high school was fortunate enough, in those days, to have computers, and I grew to love them because I could make them do what I wanted. I had a very focused path after that, applying to one college (Miami of Ohio) for one degree (systems analysis) and getting a job out of college doing exactly that. I knew what I loved to do and went for it.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Missing the market. Because we are a small company, you can only bet on so many things. We invest and focus our efforts in only a few areas, and it's always a challenge to have the right product or service ready at precisely the right time.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: Find the revenue model for your idea and do simple math. You may have the best idea for a business or product on the planet, but if there's no one willing to pay for it, then it's hard to make rent. Think your idea through practically starting with "how much will people pay for it" and balancing that against "how much does it cost to produce" and "how much you need to live." I have seen many people become too enamored with a big idea only to find out that the idea is not really profitable.

-- Kim Mikus

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