The year 2015 was a year of growth for the U.S. as well as ASAP. The U.S. economy grew, albeit more slowly than expected. Congress passed a few laws, made some headway on the budget and just recently passed the big new replacement to the ‘not very well received’ No Child Left Behind Act. The new ESSA education act, combined with the WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) bill passed in July, will hopefully lead to more emphasis on local control and flexibility to better align education with the community’s needs.
The realization that not everyone should go to college means more time, effort and resources can and should be spent on vocational training and teaching both youth and adults the skills they need to succeed in today’s global environment. There are great lessons to be learned from such programs as Germany’s apprenticeship pathways and the technical schools some of us grew up with as an option to high school or college. The new year will bring even more of a focus on the presidential election, although many of us (and probably you) are already tired of the headline grabbing stunts of the candidates. Which means Congress may as well stay home. If people think Congress did nothing the past few years, 2016 will probably make those years look positively cordial and productive.
Not so for us here at ASAP. We’re now in the capstone year of an ambitious investment in our own infrastructure. In 2015, we expanded our presence into several more countries worldwide and look to add a few more in 2016 and 2017. We have made enormous headway in structuring the product to handle this growth and to be ready to handle even more in the years to come. We focused a lot of effort in 2015 on building our Product and Client Success team. We realigned our Customer Support department to be more product focused. Each member of our support team took on one or more key parts of the ASAP system. That person or persons handle all incoming issues from clients and use that feedback plus their own knowledge to guide our Product Development to fix, enhance and update ASAP to better handle our clients’ needs. This ‘feedback loop’ means that as clients and our product/client success teams submit issues and requests, the product becomes more stable, easier to use, more efficient and effective for all involved. Huge props to our entire team for taking on this challenge and going above and beyond.
We also put a lot of attention on our Customer Success team by building this out and opening a new office on the East Coast in January 2016. Each member of the Customer Success team has a stable of existing clients to keep in touch with as well as a stream of new clients to integrate and train. We focus each member on a particular industry which means they learn the specifics about that industry, including the language, buzz words, general requirements and expectations. This means that when a client signs on with ASAP, they are talking with someone who is familiar with their business, understands and can share best practices, and is better able to learn the unique internal workflows each client has. Our new East Coast office will grow over the next year as we add more staff to better serve our clients on that side of the country as well as Europe.
In 2015, we also adjusted our development process to better align our engineering with our goals for 2016 and beyond. We moved from a frenetic development pace, trying to keep up with demand and product requirements to a more continuous development cycle better suited to maintaining product stability and prioritization of key, long-term goals. You can read more about it here. We created a new VP of Engineering position and hired a seasoned veteran of the Silicon Valley tech community to run our development group. Jeff has worked in the past with our VP of Product so we are excited to see what the pair can do for our ASAP community. This should free Travis to focus more efforts on our sales and operations and executing our strategy for growth.
Overall, we had a great 2015, setting records for new clients, revenue and hiring. Our team grew by over 35% year-over-year and we expect to continue that pace as we scale up to handle the growing demand. We want to pause a moment and thank all of our wonderful clients for their business, patience and feedback. We appreciate the opportunity they have provided us and hope that we deliver a great product that helps them focus their efforts on education rather than paperwork and process.