CampusBookRentals.com: Solving the Textbook Problem

CampusBookRentals.com (http://www.campusbookrentals.com) based in Ogden, UT  is the 17th Fastest Growing Company in the Inc. 5000. They were also #31 on Forbes’ 2011 America’s Most Promising Companies. CampusBookRentals.com (@textbookrentals) has been renting textbooks to students since 2007. CEO Alan Martin sat down to talk with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor.)   Peter Wride- Ascent Advisor: What was the need you saw? Why start a company and try to fix the problem? Alan Martin:  I was your typical student, no scholarship or real financial aid, just working and going to school full-time, eventually supporting a family too. I had done everything I could to spend as little as possible on books; I’d shop online then sell my books online at the end of the semester.  After five years of doing that, I thought, “You know what- I’ve been breaking even on textbooks this whole entire time.  I’m technically not spending any money, I’m floating it, but I’m not spending it.” The idea just came to me:  If I could buy and sell books and essentially break even on a nationwide scale while getting a rental out in the middle, there could be room for a profitable company here.  It wasn’t a crazy rocket-science type moment; it was what I had been observing as a student. I set out to start renting books. It all ultimately worked out in our favor and we got lucky with the timing of the economy. Ascent Advisor:  Part of your value to the student is they can mark up the books.  What has been the result? Alan Martin:  We didn’t want to say, “Rent your book, but when you rent...

Making the Switch: How Davinci Virtual Provides Companies with their own Virtual Office

Davinci Virtual (www.davincivirtual.com) based in Salt Lake City, UT  was the 141st Fastest Growing Company in the Inc. 5000 of 2010. Davinci Virtual provides virtual office solutions for over 10,000 clients worldwide. CEO Bill Grodnik (@DavinciCEO) took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor(@AscentAdvisor.)   Peter Wride – Ascent Advisor: You recently completed 6 years of operations, with 850 locations, 25,000 clients served – What market opportunity did you see when founding Davinci Virtual? Bill Grodnik: I’ve been in the physical executive suite business for probably 10 years.  While companies have the physical locations themselves, they also need a local virtual office component and a local phone number and business address. I noticed the movement the whole country was making with offices and retail: With a smart phone and an iPad, most guys don’t need a physical space anymore. My idea was to create a global platform for the virtual offering.  When you have physical offices, you can reach full occupancy.  With virtual offices, you are never full.  I saw the trend taking place very early on because I was in that business, so we were the first ones to market with this product in the US. I was already offering a local version and just wanted to create a global version that no one had done yet.  That was the brain child. Ascent Advisor: What was your vision in 2006 when founding your company?  Bill Grodnik:  We wanted to be the largest provider of virtual office solutions in the U.S., and we are. In the beginning, you have trials trying to figure out how you are going to get there, but we have pushed forward...

Complete Merchant Solutions: Revolutionizing the Payment Processing Industry

Complete Merchant Solutions (www.CMSOnline.com) based in Orem, UT  is the 19th Fastest Growing Company in the Inc. 500. CMS is a  trusted leader in the bankcard merchant services industry. President Dave Decker took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor(@AscentAdvisor.)   Peter Wride – Ascent Advisor: When you founded Complete Merchant Solutions (CMS), what was your vision for the company? Dave Decker: The three owners of CMS met while working for another payment processor back in 2004. Despite holding leadership roles in the company, we had very little say in terms of how the company was managed. I remember meeting countless times with the owners to discuss changes we wanted to implement to improve employee morale and increase customer satisfaction within the company, etc. Unfortunately, the owners had no interest in our input…all they cared about was squeezing every ounce of exertion out of employees and exploiting customers to maximize profits. Eventually that mindset cost them the company. Due to a series of poor decisions the company became insolvent in early 2007. The three of us stayed in contact and we eventually came back together in late 2007 to put together a business plan to launch our own payment processing company. We were determined to build a very different company in CMS. We wanted to build something that our employees and families could be proud to be associated with. Ascent Advisor: What is the vision for CMS today?  Dave Decker: Our vision, or BHAG, is to break into the top 25 ‘Merchant Acquirers in the US’, which would require that we process roughly $15 billion annually. Seeing how we...