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JCCC Stories

Learning through interaction

July 16, 2016

Education company wins Kansas SBDC Existing Business of the Year.

Every year, the Kansas Small Business Development Center chooses a business to honor with its Existing Business of the Year award. For 2016, CTe Learning, owned by Steve Waddell, accepted the award.

Waddell struggled while in high school, and it was this struggle that ultimately became his passion: learning. While working for an educational company, Waddell became frustrated by the products he was delivering. So he went into business for himself.

How the business works

CTe Learning began as the company I Support Learning (ISL) in 2003, producing interactive educational content with a focus on engagement, creativity and leveraging technology.

ISL has enjoyed renewed success in getting its products to market and seeing customers return year after year, making ISL part of their classrooms and transforming the way students learn.

How it got started

In the early days of ISL, the business grew quickly, reaching almost $1 million in sales and nine employees.

Then, when the economy went south, educational funding was cut from many budgets. ISL survived, mainly because Waddell refused to give up on his passion.

During this troubling time, Waddell reinvented and retooled his organization from the ground up. He knew he could not make this transition alone, so he contacted the Kansas SBDC at Johnson County Community College.

How Kansas SBDC helped

Stephanie Landis, Kansas SBDC consultant, started working with Waddell, grounding his business through analytics. He needed to understand where his customers were coming from, how many were returning and what his break-even revenue would need to be to grow the business.

Landis suggested Waddell apply for assistance with NetWork Kansas’ Economic Gardening program. ISL was accepted and through this opportunity, Waddell was given hours of research assistance that ultimately provided market data, competitive analysis and so much more.

Thanks to a scalable sales process that uses real data, growth is up. Profitability is the best ever in the history of the company.