Berj Akian felt extremely fortunate when he first visited SCORE’s Bergen County, NJ Chapter in 1998 with his idea for ClassLink Technologies, a new business that would help schools integrate and manage their computer resources. His volunteer mentor, Joe DeSalvo, was well-versed in technology-related businesses, making him the perfect mentor to help Akian develop a sound business plan.
ClassLink’s first project, designing a technology solution for the Union City, NJ, School District’s restructured curriculum, was a smashing success. Using the company’s System 2000 product, students and teachers could access their work and applications from anywhere at school or at home. Before long, Union City improved from one of the state’s worst-performing districts to graduating hundreds of college-bound students.
In 2012, more than 60,000 students and teachers in five states use ClassLink System 2000. The company has received endorsements from the U.S. Department of Education, and the Education Divisions of Microsoft, Dell, and National Semiconductor. The company recently won the 2012 SIIA Codie Award: Best Education Community Solution for the ClassLink LaunchPad Virtual Desktop, a personalized cloud-based desktop that provides access to school resources from any device; delivers cost savings and reduces complexity, ideal for BYO initiatives. Akian recently expanded ClassLink’s headquarters for the third time to accommodate his growing staff.
Under DeSalvo’s guidance, Akian tested and refined the ClassLink’s marketing plan, and received input on other start-up issues from SCORE mentors.
As for that often-tweaked marketing strategy, “it remains the thickest section of our business plan,” Akian says, adding that he frequently calls on DeSalvo and SCORE for advice and ideas. “The folks there are very sharp and incredibly sincere. And the depth of talent and experience they offer is amazing. It’s like having a full-service advisory board available for any issue, and for free!”. Fifteen years later, DeSalvo and SCORE have been there for the life of Akian's business as it continues to expand.