Project management training company Velociteach CEO and founder Andy Crowe has not taken the path of least resistance in his career.
After graduation from Kennesaw State University, the Marietta native turned down a job offer with IBM, the company where he interned during college.
“I turned it down, and my mother almost died,” recalls Crowe. “I wanted to be in business for myself, I thought. … I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
One month after college graduation, Crowe and his wife married, and he started a software development company. “We grew up to half a dozen employees over a 10-year period,” Crowe said. “Then, in 1997, with the Internet taking off … we went under.”
Crowe said after losing its top two customers within weeks, the company could not recover. “It was awful; I had to let people go about a month before Christmas. … That was the lowest point career-wise.” Next, Crowe worked as a project manager with two different large companies.
“I loved working as a project manager. ... It was something I was good at and understood,” he said. However, in 2002, when constant international travel became unbearable with young children at home, Crowe found himself at a crossroads. Taking a big risk — he quit without another job.
“I got stranded in the United Kingdom over Mother’s Day,” he recalls. “We decided a few weeks after that it wasn’t the best match for where we were in life.” Crowe says he spent four months “soul searching” before deciding that he wanted to teach project managers.
While living off of a home equity loan, Crowe wrote and self-published “The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try,” the book that would become the foundation for the training classes. “It was a terribly risky thing,” he recalls. “Once we decided, our house was taken over by this business.”
In January 2003, Crowe rented hotel space and held the first training class, but only four people came.
“Four people only broke even,” said Crowe. He said by the fourth class, nine people attended. “I knew then we were going to make it.” Since then, the book has been reprinted 27 times and has sold 150,000 copies. It can be purchased through online retailers and is handed out as part of the course. He has since written three additional project management books.
In 2007, Velociteach moved to its current location off Townpark Drive in Kennesaw. Today, the company has seven full-time teachers among its 22 employees. Velociteach provides live training classes and e-learning — a segment that grew 69 percent last year. He says 46,000 people from 136 countries have taken the online courses to date. A live three-day course costs $2,500 per person.
Some of the company’s biggest clients include Siemens, Home Depot, FedEx and Chick-fil-A, as well as governmental agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We haven’t been hit by the recession,” he said. “I think the reason is that most companies are still training. We’ve actually grown.”
Rob Swartwood, attorney at Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun and Rogers, was a classmate with Crowe in Leadership Cobb.
“He understands group dynamics, and he challenges those around him to grow out of their comfort zone in order to realize their true potential,” he said. “He’s an effective communicator, and he keeps projects on-task and oriented in the proper direction.”