We talked to Joseph Schmoke of Urandr about disrupting and growing higher education business.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Joseph Schmoke: Fortunately, we are well, and we wear masks and take social distancing seriously!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Urandr.
Joseph Schmoke: I have founded or acquired almost 20 companies since 1974. My newest startup is based on a rollup of multiple smaller software schools, initially located across the USA. This is my fifth rollup. The others were in private cable TV, auto dealerships, physician practice management companies, and website design.
How does Urandr innovate?
Joseph Schmoke: We look ahead ten years and make assumptions regarding the demand for certain skills, primarily technical skills. We plan to provide training in the skills that will be in high demand, like robotics, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Joseph Schmoke: We had to pivot quickly from classroom instruction to doing everything online. It has worked out surprisingly well.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Joseph Schmoke: The choice to move all operations online was difficult but necessary. One important lesson is that if we are threatened with disruption, we have the innate ability to address the situation with logical decisions.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Urandr in the future?
Joseph Schmoke: Stress and anxiety are ALWAYS part of leading a business. I’ve learned that the key is to accept that these pressures are normal and, during disruptions, unavoidable. So self-discipline is essential. That’s the first step in relieving the stress. Some anxiety is good. It makes you think things through rather than make knee-jerk decisions.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Joseph Schmoke: We have many competitors, some of which are relatively large, but there is always competition. My attitude is finding your niche, carving it out, and defending it by providing excellent value and superb service.
Your final thoughts?
Joseph Schmoke: Thank God for the experience! This pandemic has been a shocker, but so has 20008, 9/11, 1987, and on and on. Now very few things phase me.