Susanne Waher was employed with Child Advocates of Santa Clara & San Mateo counties from 1989 until 2005. Her long tenure with non-profit agencies and extensive experience with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) agencies gave her insight into creating a product that would well serve this niche's needs. She initially turned to SCORE for help in developing a business plan that would guide her in bringing the product to market and eventually found her mentors to be critical in teaching her so much more.
Susanne wrote and copyrighted the intial software in 1993 and started selling the software part-time to other CASA agencies in 1995. She took a break from the business while working overseas for 2 1/2 years but in 2007 she decided to return to the U.S. and restart the business full time with a completely reworked product. The software is now used by agencies in 28 states to manage the caseloads of approximately 50,000 dependent children and 17,000 volunteers.
The business revenue has doubled each year for the past five years. CASA Manager has also been in the top 20 FileMaker Software Bundle resellers nationwide for the last three consecutive quarters. As a result, Susanne has been able to add two part-time developers and one full-time sales person to her staff.
Susanne learned about SCORE from a business school professor who suggested she needed to write a business plan. She was paired with mentor Mike Gilbert whose qualifications were a perfect match for her needs - he had a PhD in computer science, an MBA in financial planning and technical expertise in computer system design, network hardware and software. Susanne speaks of her mentor's guidance saying, "Mike helped me with the writing of the initial business plan as well as all other aspects of running a small business - everything from taking out a business license to creating consultancy contracts, letters of agreement, negotiating big deals, business strategy, and marketing." She goes on to say, "SCORE has been invaluable to me. I don't know what I would have done without Mike - but I do know running a small business wouldn't have been as much fun!"