SAN DIEGO, CA (July 3, 2007) – Bridgepoint Education founder and chief executive officer Andrew Clark was featured in the San Diego Business Journal’s Entrepreneur Profile.
An excerpt of the interview by the SDBJ’s Jaimy Lee is below:
Reason for getting into business: I'm the son of a banker and a teacher, so in many ways my job is a marriage of my parents' endeavors. After learning about how a successful university is run, and figuring out how I could augment that model, it became my mission to create a quality education that was affordable and accessible.
How I plan to grow the business: Continue to hire exceptional talent. Human capital is truly our greatest asset.
Biggest plus of business ownership: It's an amazing feeling to have one's vision realized. The ability to have control over operations and execution is enormously rewarding.
Biggest drawbacks: Being an entrepreneur requires a great leap of faith and an understanding wife! I remember going through some nail- biting before we were recapitalized. I wouldn't call it a drawback, but it's fair to say that the "waiting period" isn't for everyone.
Biggest business strengths: Creativity and the ability to attract talent.
Biggest business weakness: An intolerance of people who don't work hard.
Biggest risk: Leaving the stability of my job to pursue this dream. For 13 months I had no income and was running on faith that this model would work.
Smartest business decision: Our acquisition of Mount Saint Clare College in Iowa, which we renamed Ashford University. Bringing in a history of academic excellence, as well as the traditions that come with a brick and mortar university, makes Bridgepoint unique in the for-profit higher education space.
Biggest business mistake: I should have started Bridgepoint sooner!
Toughest career decision: Leaving the stability of my career to start this company.
Biggest ongoing challenge: Since our inception, revenues have grown 4,213 percent. While that growth is exciting, it's a challenge to find the best and brightest talent to fill that increased demand.
The most important part of my business: People - both our valued human capital as well as the students who choose us.
My business works best when: Our students are satisfied with our programs and the career translatability of our degrees. We recently polled 900 of our students and asked them if they would recommend us. Ninety-eight percent said yes and that was one of the proudest moments in my career.
Best way to stay competitive: Innovation. We've thrown preconceived notions about the legacy education model out the window and are redefining the way we believe higher education should be. For example, we cost 20 percent to 50 percent less than our peers.
How I measure success: By our graduation and retention rates. It's important to me that so many of our students stay with us until their degree is complete.
Goals yet to be achieved: Reaching more of the 55 million Americans who can't afford an education. Also, as emerging economies are developing middle classes of their own, such as in China, India and Eastern Europe, we may explore new international opportunities.
My five-year business plan: Because of our growth and desire to innovate, we develop business plans in three-year increments. I hope in three years, our enrollment is at or north of 40,000 students.
I would sell my business only if: I'm not at a point where that's something I'm thinking about.
Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Altruism and success can go hand in hand. Leave the world and the education industry better than I found it.
Copyright San Diego Business Journal May 21, 2007.
About Bridgepoint Education
Based in San Diego, Bridgepoint Education was founded on the principle that everyone deserves access to an affordable higher education without sacrificing quality, transferability of credits, accessibility, academic standards, or credentials. As an independent, private higher education company, Bridgepoint is committed to serving the millions of adults seeking an affordable alternative to high priced higher education. Bridgepoint Education subsidiaries provide both traditional and online education offerings, in addition to recruiting and admissions services. Our comprehensive education services have helped thousands of students improve their lives and careers through higher education. For more information, please visit us at www.bridgepointeducation.com or contact: Jessica Caris, Director of Public Relations, at 800.798.0584 Ext 2515.