Not too long ago, I found myself spearheading a revolution in a slow-to-change pillar of society – education. While a student at Cornell, I realized the archaic method of "learning" with pen and paper and professors who talk at you, was completely outdated. I considered it a moral imperative to determine how professors and students alike could – and truly need to - utilize technology to improve the quality of education.
It was evident there was both a dire need for change and a business opportunity, so with determination, sweat and even some tears, I co-founded what evolved into Blackboard: an education-based technology company. Blackboard reinvented how resources in higher education are distributed and consumed and quickly became a ubiquitous tool in American education. We raised $100 million in capital, took the company public in 2004 and later sold it for $1.6 billion.
Having played a part in helping transform the global education system, riding through bubbles (and bursts), I did what most of us would do: I moved home to Florida with my family and attempted to "retire." This move unwittingly led to my next entrepreneurial endeavor…
After some time in the Florida sun (and after requests by my wife), I visited dermatologist Dr. Michael Sherling for a routine skin exam. With technology always on my mind, I couldn't help but notice he still documented on paper charts. I realized healthcare, similar to education, was a pillar of American industry that had somehow been bypassed by our country's technological revolution. A clear problem that needs solving is a key ingredient of entrepreneurial success, and this particular problem found me when I least expected it.