Friday, July 10, 2009

Joining Forces

July 10, 2009- In this economy, as businesses are meandering through changing times, there’s no shortage of mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships in every industry imaginable. Is Fiat buying Chrysler? When is ITT taking over Daniel Webster College? While all too common these days, it is nothing new. Think Williams and Sonoma, Proctor and Gamble, and Exxon and Mobil. Fortunately, joining forces often yields a better organization and a better result for the consumer. Such is the case at ConnectEDU.

As we near the first anniversary of Prep HeadQuarters joining Connect! in the ConnectEDU National Network™, I’ve been reflecting on the success of the past year – how taking two platforms with similar missions has strengthened a national network for college and career planning. As I look to the future, I’ve also been thinking about the evolution of other success stories where organizations joined forces to make change on a national scale.

How about when Barnes met Noble, for example?

When in 1873 Charles M. Barnes opened a home book business in Wheaton, Illinois, he probably didn’t envision his son William joining forces with G. Clifford Noble to open the first Barnes & Noble in New York in 1917. It may not have crossed his mind that later during the Great Depression their flagship Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue would become known as the premier bookstore in the nation. Combining forces proved to be effective.

Neither the Barnes family nor Noble probably knew that across town in Greenwich Village several decades later, a college bookstore clerk at NYU decided he could better serve students with his own competing bookstore and opened The Student Book Exchange in 1965 and soon thereafter expanded to operate several other college bookstores. In the 70s, this one-time bookstore clerk turned entrepreneur Leonard Riggio added the flagship Barnes & Noble store to its own operations and turned it into the “Largest bookstore in the World”. Other 1980s acquisitions of B. Dalton Booksellers, Doubleday Book Shops and Scribner’s bookstore name, propelled B&N onto a national stage. Combining forces proved to be effective.

Of course, since there is probably a B&N somewhere near your home, you know the rest of the history. It’s interesting to understand the unexpected twists and planned turns behind the growth of a company – something we never lose sight of at ConnectEDU as we build our national reputation.

Like the various moves that helped Barnes & Noble become a national name, the combination of Connect! and PrepHQ in the ConnectEDU National Network over the past year has been a success story of growth in the marketplace.

Swiftly, we’ve become the nation’s largest and most prolific college and career planning network with 20% of the college bound student population, in part due to the services-oriented philosophy we expanded upon with the leadership of the PrepHQ team. In addition to providing the best experience to our current users, we’ve expanded the network faster than in any previous year, a precarious year when schools are seeking technology to save money.

For our college partners who joined the network to provide greater access to students, expansion means hundreds of thousands of more students to meet and help!

As we celebrate the successful merger of the Connect! and PrepHQ teams under the ConnectEDU umbrella, we continue to make progress in a changing marketplace. We continue to strengthen our network with robust partnerships, expanded offerings, and a dedication to the students and families we serve.

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