Fire Engine RED is a educational technology company that provides customized Web-based software products and Student Search Services to more than 300 admissions offices in the U.S. and abroad.
Our company was founded by Shelly J. Spiegel and René Smith in December 2001, which was not exactly the best time to start – let alone fund – a technology company: Investors had lost confidence in start-up technology companies due to the dot-com crash the previous year. And the country had gone into a recession following the events of September 11 and the anthrax scare.
So, with no funding available for tech start-ups, Shelly and René had only two choices: go it alone or not go it at all.
After thinking it over (for about 30 seconds), they decided to go it alone because the need for the software products they intended to build was so clear.
As they saw it – the education market lacked Web-based products that were simple-to-use, fully customizable and affordably priced. In addition, their research told them that schools were looking for niche products (with à la carte pricing) that required only a one-year commitment rather than bundled software (that cost a bundle) and required a multi-year contract. Further, they found that schools had a high need for support and that the companies that served schools were falling far short of their expectations.
Shelly and René knew that there was only one way that they would be able to fund their company and that was through client sales. So without any money to hire a sales team, they did the only thing they could do – they poured what limited resources they had into building the software products and support for the education market. Their hope was that if they did so, their clients would begin to spread the word.
Today, Fire Engine RED has grown into a company that serves more than 300 clients and has done so almost exclusively by word-of-mouth.
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