Hunter Ferrell is the former CFO of Linux Academy (now known as A Cloud Guru), an online platform for training and educating the future of cloud creators. “Clouds” are referred to as a web-based data center that an individual or a business can access, without dealing with physical servers, or work on software on their devices. Think of it as a digital filing cabinet….in the “clouds.” The skills required for working with cloud applications were in high demand for businesses before the pandemic hit and now as more people begin to work remotely, more companies require a virtual space to “store” those shared documents or applications.
That’s where Linux Academy comes in. In the fast-paced world of digital innovation, Linux Academy is on the cutting edge of teaching and training cloud creators and cloud application developers. Every business or company needs unique features and security for their “digital filing cabinet.” Cloud creators help build those specific requirements that a business needs into their cloud.
“When Anthony founded it [Linux Academy], he started it because he couldn’t find any training in the market to suit the needs. There’s really not anything economical or readily available. The only options that were around at that point were things like Red Hat training, which is like seven or $8,000. Not very valuable and there’s no real continuing education behind it. He was looking for a way to really just train himself when it started. He created the first course on Linux Academy and made it live. I think he was charging something like $5 a month for it – very, very inexpensive. Then the market size was growing exponentially at that time – the cloud market. The company was always trying to genuinely help grow and improve people’s lives. Anthony really had a passion for helping others learn and grow. It’s really what drove him at Linux Academy. There was just a ton of passion and flare the company that really flowed through to its students.”
If you need a solution to a problem in your life, there is a good chance someone else also needs that solution too. This is how novel ideas can become a product or service which can lead to companies being founded.
“Let’s talk about the migration really to the cloud in general. So we are currently undergoing probably the largest aggregate shift in IT, since the dawn of the digital era, in the move off of analog. There’s a lot of industries that are slow to adopt, you can monitor AWS [Amazon Web Services] and Azure growth rates, and both of those companies are still growing at 35% plus.”
As the world becomes more digitalized (and with COVID-19 implications), companies are beginning to hire employees remotely. What advantages come with this? A larger hiring pool of people outside the HQ regional area, and finding employees with a more specific skill sets.
“From the onset, Anthony’s vision was to create this real-world, hands-on training. That’s really unparalleled and still to this day unchallenged by any company. He used to have this great analogy and say imagine that I gave you a book on how to build a car engine. And I told you to read that book cover to cover. And then I took you out into a garage and put all the parts of a car engine out in front of you…Do you think you could build that engine? We need to know of course, that nobody could just read a book and then learn how to build an engine. But imagine if I walked you through and showed you live in person, you held those physical parts in your hands, it would be much easier for you to learn and much quicker for you to learn how to assemble that engine. And that’s really where the idea and the differentiation for our training model came into play with the hands-on labs because we can truly teach someone how to do something and then apply it into a real-world scenario.”
Sometimes the original business plan doesn’t work out. Don’t worry, and stay flexible. Adapting the changes within the market and industry is crucial to see the business be profitable. Focus in on business goals to determine which ways to make the company become more efficient.
“Linux Academy always had an extremely defined ‘Why’…We always put students and learning above everything else. Anthony used to tell people if we have some idea that makes us a hundred million dollars, but it affects students learning and it hurts the students, we’re not going to do it.”
Linux Academy’s goal is to keep the focus on student learning. They strived to keep their sights on what the company is about and then the clients will support the mission. Customer satisfaction is what grows the clientele base, and in turn, strengthens revenue.
Fort Worth is a location great for startups and even tech entrepreneurs like Hunter and Anthony. There is so much support and resources available for businesses in the Metroplex and companies like Linux Academy can be built in smaller cities like Keller. There are great locations to start a company, offering tax incentives and benefits, as well as access to a diverse and expansive talent pool for employees. With plenty of resources and activities in DFW, it’s a no brainer to consider starting a business in Fort Worth!
Interested in another Innovator’s story? Check out the post on Melissa Ice, founder of The Net and The Worthy Co. who has found innovative ways to express her passion for people and building relationships.