What’s the inspiration behind the name Procertas?
Procertas is a play on the words professional & certification. We originally launched the company with the name Cost Control. We eventually deemed it to have a negative connotation, hence the change.
Through our assessments, we are able to certify the proficiency levels of our end users with the end goal of validating the statement on a resume. For example, “proficient in Microsoft Office”.
What inspired you to take the jump and launch Procertas?
It was pretty simple. I had a belief in the technology and saw there was a real need. It didn’t hurt that I have a gambler instinct by nature. I thought of myself and how weak I was in utilizing these core technologies. Not once in the education process were these addressed, unless I sought out the training. If I did seek it out, the training was archaic and used time as a proxy for learning (i.e. you sit in a room with an instructor and because you were there it was assumed you learned it and now know it). We all know that’s simply not the case. I wanted to change that, and knew our platforms/technologies could be the solution to this issue.
How did you meet your co-founder? How do you work together?
It’s actually a pretty funny story that I tell often, as to how I met Casey Flaherty, who is the visionary of Procertas LLC. I unsuccessfully sold legal technology services to Casey a long time ago while he was managing in-house counsel at KIA Motors USA. Although the sale was unsuccessful, we developed a deep friendship and respect for one another from day one.
I have the utmost respect for Casey’s passion and acumen, as it relates to legal technology, streamlining processes, and simply as a person/professional. Casey has the same respect for me, as it relates to business, networking and the ability to sell/promote things at an amazing level. It was a very synergistic connection.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Risk and competition come up in everyday business decisions. In my eyes, both topics drive success. I’m a true believer in the phrase, “where there’s risk there is reward." I don’t think I make business decisions that are risky per se, but rather more adventurous and out of the box. I try to stir the market. The most risk Procertas takes is a continued deep spend on platform development, and a business pivot into general education.
As for competition, it’s our driving force daily. We evaluate all competitive platforms on a monthly basis to see where the competition is, and where it’s headed in the future. We push for conversations with customers that are using competitive technology to find out their likes, dislikes and wants.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Honestly, number one would have to be sourcing funding to allow for proper scaling and meeting demand. It’s a good challenge to have. Each time an angel investor, VC or private equity fund tells us we're not the right fit, it drives us even more to make Procertas a continued success.
Challenge number two, which is the fun part of the adventure, is convincing the naive who think our younger generations are technology savvy simply because they were born with a Twitter account in utero. It’s the “myth of the digital native" and it’s the furthest from the reality of where our youth, and a high percentage of our workforce, stand in terms of their technical competency levels.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
Yes! I, too, was part of this myth of being technologically savvy. I thought because I knew how to use Word, Excel, etc. that I was proficient enough. This was a severely poor assumption on my end. I also learned the power of letting go, as it relates to trying to handle any/all situations a small company may encounter. Each aspect of a startup (i.e. marketing, accounting/bookkeeping, social media, etc.) should all be handled and driven by experts in the said vertical. If you don’t have the budget to source experts to do the work, at the very least consult with them on a topical level.
Was it difficult transitioning to a founder role?
No, actually it’s an essential part of being a startup founder. You can create the best widget or technology in the world, but if you can’t sell it, that creation is obsolete. I have been able to use my talents in Client Development to show continued aggressive revenue growth, which is essential to success. That said, as you can see by the above answer, I needed to know where my limitations were and are as a founder (CEO). I learned to surround myself with the right people for each scenario and need that arises.
What’s your team culture like?
Collaborative, creative, fun, respectful and fair!
What is your superpower?
Kindness and my smile.
What’s your kryptonite?
I can’t stand if someone is not kind to another human being. Any type of bullying or having an ego are complete turn-offs and my kryptonite. Oh yeah, I also hate the smell and taste of coffee.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I wake up at 2:30/3 AM Eastern every day and work until 4:45 AM. From 4:45 to 5:30 AM I exercise in my garage. At 5:45 AM, I get three of my four children (10, 8 and 6 years-old) ready for school (make lunches, breakfast, etc.) take them to school. After dropping them off I drive to the beach (Isle of Palms, SC) and run 4-5 miles, six times a week. Upon return, I work until I can’t anymore.
Outside of that crazy/unusual routine depicted above, I have the WEIRDEST habit of scratching the stitching on blankets...don’t ask!!
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
I am an avid basketball player, and I still play competitively with a great group of friends and players in the Charleston, SC area. I also enjoy golfing, and I am absolutely consumed and obsessed with my wife and 4 children.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
The flashlight on my phone. I run on the weekends very early in the morning when it’s still pitch dark out!
Do you have a(ny) mentor(s)? If so, what have they taught you?
My parents and my wife, hands down! The three of them are the only people in the world that can make me slow down and appreciate everything around me. On a professional level, I’d have to say my brother-in-law Tim Campbell. He taught me that sales and business are more about listening than preaching/telling. He taught me to learn what the customer wants, and/or just as important, what your employees are seeing, etc. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.