Bad Business

We knew when we got into this business that, well, we were getting into business. In business, honest competition is good and necessary. It helps companies fight complacency and results in better products for consumers. But just because competition is good doesn't make everything done in the name of competition good.

We recently did a demo for a fellow claiming to represent St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, which he said was shopping around for a new information system. The demo was just a low fly-over, nothing intensive or detailed. During the demo, our salesman got a funny feeling about the guy on the other end of the call. After it ended, we did a little research.

The guy had nothing to do with St. Mary's. We gave them a call—they'd never heard of him (and they weren't shopping). A little Googling, a little LinkedIn-ing, a little review of our notes in Highrise, and we figured out that the guy is the Sales Manager for one of our competitors. The company in question offers software similar to ours, and we've bumped into them during the sales process with some colleges. They've won some, we've won others. Fair enough. They're cheaper than Populi, and from the sounds of it, you get what you pay for—less-than-straightforward salesmen, development and support outsourced overseas, K-12 software shoehorned into a college setting...

...and, apparently, their Sales Manager is willing to lie about representing a college.

Now, we're not put out that a competitor saw Populi. That just means that we're the ones worth imitating. We honestly couldn't care less about seeing their software. We're just rather aghast at the willingness of this company to lie about representing an institution our industry is supposed to be serving. What must these guys think of their customers?

When we got into this business, we knew we were getting into something that had made itself obnoxious to a lot of colleges. This episode has hardened our resolve to be different—to just serve our customers, simply and honestly.