After my son was born and while my wife was pregnant with our daughter, I realized I wanted to shift my work efforts to a field that had much greater social benefits. Perhaps it was the extreme lack of sleep, or maybe my frustration with my son always grabbing the flash cards I was using to teach him and eating them. Nonetheless, having an entrepreneurial spirit already, I started researching educational business ideas. During this process, I was surprised to find that my soon-to-become best friend Rick McCallum ran the reading credential program at U.C. Berkeley. Previously, I had only thought of him as someone I liked to punch during Karate training. It was on a break during a weekend Karate summer camp that I shared with him an early business plan for Let's Go Learn (something like version 20 out of the eventual 45!). Rick looked at me and said, "Richard, do you know what I do at Berkeley?" I ignorantly replied, "Hummm... You teach English or something?"
From that moment, we plunged forward, and I've never really looked back. In October 2000, I incorporated Let's Go Learn and quit my comfortable job at Adobe Systems. We started development, secured funding, lost funding in the dot.com crash, and then persevered until we launched our first assessment in September of 2001. At the time, our first assessment was called "The LGL Reading Assessment." Later, as our marketing matured, we named it DORA.
During the initial years, we grew cautiously, but amazingly, we always seemed to find the right people at the right time. Today we have over 6 assessments and 7 instructional products. The passion we all have for what we do keeps me personally energized every day. It has been 17 years so far and I still love going to work. And I love squeezing it in during the evenings when my family and I are watching reruns of "The Office" and I can have my laptop on my lap.
Today, of course, things have gotten a lot more serious. As we expand into more schools and deal with larger deployments, I have realized that every decision we make is critical. The wrong partner can be devastating. With that said, we are practicing what we preach. We want schools to use diagnostic data to drive their instruction, so we are using our own data to guide our development and sales and marketing. As we grow, our goal is to continue to support our customers like a small business but also scale like a large business. Fortunately, we have many smart people working at Let's Go Learn. We are using lots of great technologies to make our development processes and customer support methodologies easier. This benefits everyone, including ourselves, our partners, and our customers.
Expect more great things in the next few years. My goal is to keep having fun at work as well as in my personal life. Thank you for reading this personal story!
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Raising my two kids with my wife
What was your first car?
Mitsubishi pickup truck
If you could eat just one thing for the rest of your life, what would you eat?
What are your main hobbies?
Mountain biking, karate, soccer