First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hayden Hall: Thankfully, during these very difficult times, my family and our employees’ families have been healthy and safe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ClassRanked.
Hayden Hall: I am the Founder and CEO of ClassRanked, an educational technology company. After having started and exited from nearly a half a dozen startups – I was attending Duke University studying computer science when I was inspired to create ClassRanked. My friends and I were registering for classes and found there was no best place to turn to find a list of easiest classes at universities. Fast forward two years, we are currently operating at over 350 schools and have over 500 million individual grade data infused into our site.
How does ClassRanked innovate?
Hayden Hall: We are constantly innovating in order to keep a competitive advantage. Every month, we are rolling out new features to maximize our users’ experience – iterating on our current site to better the lives of millions of college students and families when deciding how to get the most value out of college.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Hayden Hall: The pandemic dramatically changed our business. The entire college industry was affected, and we were forced to pivot and evolve our operations as registration dates were pushed back. One unexpected positive for our company was that due to the lack of in-person interactions, students increasingly have turned to online resources such as ours to meet their needs.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Hayden Hall: We were forced to make many tough choices. One being that we, as an organization, decided to transition our workforce to become virtual. This was surprisingly effective, and we learned that virtual working was a real possibility in the future. We also learned that the college space’s entire landscape would be changed forever, and that forced us to dramatically alter the way we do business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hayden Hall: While there are many competitors in the field (Chegg & Course Hero for class material uploading, Rate My Professors for class ratings, and other service-based college resource companies such as Brainly, Niche, and Naviance), we are the only company with compressive grading data. As we continue in the future, we see this data as having the powerful possibility to change the way we value educational outcomes.
Your final thoughts?
Hayden Hall: There are so many entrepreneurs out there sitting on great ideas, and my advice would be to take the plunge and make the world a better place.