On-Site Coverage: CUSO Execs Reflect on Mistakes Made in Early Days
LAS VEGAS — Hiring the right people is just one of the lessons some executives said they have learned from after launching their respective CUSOs.
Speaking at an interactive session on the topic during NACUSO's annual conference this week was Mike Atkins, CEO of Open Technology Solutions in Colorado, Kirk Drake, CEO of Ongoing Operations LLC in Maryland, and Paroon Chadha, vice president and co-founder of Passageways LLC in Indiana. Each shared some of the lessons they learned in building their CUSOs.
When asked what was the most challenging business issue to starting and running a CUSO and how that issue was addressed, both Chadha and Drake agree that bringing on bpard the right people was critical. Atkins said the biggest challenge is getting the deal done. Meaning, convincing chief information officers that the solution being offered will make their lives better.
With any new business, there are unexpected surprises along the way, the panel session's moderator pointed out. Each of the CUSO leaders were asked to recall some of them. Drake said the pace of change was unexpected going from two to 30 employees. Atkins said the evolution of OTS' business model was a surprise for the CUSO.
"Once partners said go build this, it became an asset to credit union partners," Atkins said.
Chadha said the journey has been a roller coaster ride. In its first year, Passageways had $100,000 in capital, signed on 10 customers and brought in $300,000 in revenue.
"You would think we were doing a happy dance but we were not," Chadha said. "That's because we didn't know what to expect next. It's a constant cycle of ups and downs."