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posted: 5/20/2013 7:29 AM

ScholarBuys grows in Carpentersville

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  • Courtesy of ScholarBuysBob Smith, left, and Matt Ryan of ScholarBuys in Carpentersville.

    Courtesy of ScholarBuysBob Smith, left, and Matt Ryan of ScholarBuys in Carpentersville.


An interview with Matt Ryan, co-owner of ScholarBuys in Carpentersville.

Q: Describe your business. What do you do?

A: ScholarBuys markets software licensing and similar technology to K12 and higher education institutions nationwide. Our business model focuses primarily on group purchasing agreements made available to academic consortia and cooperatives.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: Bob and I started developing the business plan for ScholarBuys in late 2007, during the onset of the recession. The technology budgets of many academic institutions shrank during this time, so they began looking harder for ways to save money. We were confident if we created a company built and focused entirely on the group purchasing of academic software licenses we would have an immediate market. Our business model provides value to our customers and software publishers while at the same time providing us with a competitive advantage.

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

A: Time. To be successful you must dedicate as much time as possible to your business. This is especially true during the startup phase. That means getting a little less sleep at night, skipping social functions and unfortunately sacrificing time with your family in some cases.

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

A: Seeing our ideas get successfully implemented has been a rewarding experience. It has allowed us to develop a business that everyone in our organization takes pride in. We were recently able to obtain a larger and unique office space within the rehabbed Otto Campus in downtown Carpentersville. That was a major milestone and we now have the space needed to add new members to our team.

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

A: I did my best to avoid this question when I was young. In all honesty I don't think I ever had a strong interest in getting into one particular field. However, I always had an interest in being a business owner.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Running your own business means you are responsible for not only your family at home but your family at work. We have loyal employees who have been with us for years and it is our responsibility to make sure they are given the tools needed to succeed. Any decisions that are made need to be the best decisions for the entire company.

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

A: I recently read a blog post by Mark Cuban where he encouraged entrepreneurs not to follow their dreams, instead follow their hard work. I think this is some of the best advice you can give to someone thinking of starting a business. Too many people are told to follow their dreams and then think they can go out and start a business in a field that they are passionate about. The most important thing in starting a business is effort not passion. If you put in the hard work, you can master your field. If you master your field you will become passionate about it.

• Every Monday we feature a small, suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at

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