While Dennis Ciccone was leading Lycos Ventures, the fund invested in Carnegie Learning Inc. in 2001, and he assumed a seat on the company’s board of directors.
The company was newly incorporated as a private company and had evolved out of Carnegie Mellon University’s cognitive and computer science departments. It was applying theory about how students learn to the development of math software and textbook curricula for high school students struggling with the transition from arithmetic to algebraic thinking.
The company’s technology was strong but education was still largely perceived to be a social issue, not a global economic indicator like it is today. Ciccone saw the challenge of technology infrastructures in the schools being inconsistent or nonexistent, which presented another obstacle to entry. After five years, Carnegie Learning was struggling to make sales objectives and manage implementations, and in January 2005, Ciccone was named interim CEO to infuse the “missionary” culture of the company with an aggressive sales and marketing strategy.
He saw a great opportunity to revolutionize an industry that had changed very little in a century. He moved point of sales entry from the school building level to the district superintendent and state decision-maker levels where there was an opportunity to change misperceptions about students’ abilities to learn and to demonstrate the viability of software as a new educational tool.
He went in armed with data to support the company’s software, and Ciccone was able to grow the company’s booked revenue by 50 percent in the first fiscal year as CEO in 2005. Going into 2011, Carnegie Learning has achieved six years of consecutive year-over-year growth of 20 to 30 percent, which is well above the industry average of 5 percent. Even more importantly, the company’s technology helps more than 500,000 students in 3,000 schools across the country to succeed in math and prepare them for the modern economy.
How to reach: Carnegie Learning Inc., (888) 851-7094 or www.carnegielearning.com