Byron Giles of CertificationPoint

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Byron Giles (founder and Senior Operations Director) of CertificationPoint, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of CertificationPoint – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

I feel CertificationPoint was my journey in a way. I flunked out of my first college for not focusing enough on class instead of sports. I eventually joined the US Air Force with no degree but a ton of credits. I picked back up on my journey to complete my degree during my second duty assignment in Misawa, Japan. During this overseas assignment, we were really able to touch the network equipment and although it was a rat race, we had some great mentors and experiences. I started taking courses again, most of which were tied to what I was working on at my job. I was able to start tying together the gaps of book knowledge with hands-on application, as well as by asking questions.

During this time frame (1999-2002), I started to gain traction when I was able to reverse engineer an .asp web calendar and realized the web offered me the most flexibility, eventually taking over the base’s web site. At that point, I started looking to build solutions after having an understanding of my organization. I created a trouble ticketing system in MS Access, which the organization used for a while before purchasing Remedy ARS. While taking a Visual C++ course, I created an organization ‘What Should I Do’ application to help process message and notifications – this helped the new troops being assigned to our organization get up to speed faster. There were several other ways I worked to apply what I was learning there and with other organizations thereafter. Initially, CertificationPoint started off as more of an open platform with students and experienced professionals offering competing bids for work.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

There were 2 main issues. First the experienced professionals received all of the work, and second, I wasn’t distinguishing CertificationPoint from a platform like Fiverr or UpWork (oDesk and Elance during that timeframe). Pivoting towards a platform primarily for students to gain real-world experience, whether they are in college, trade school, or looking to learn a new trade was the best direction. Streamlining processes to allow students to gain field-level insight into a future career has been awesome, as well as allowing student to view their trajectory from start to finish.

The key problems CertificationPoint is helping solve is giving students viable work experience for their beginner resumes, enabling businesses to have more trust in a students overall capabilities, and allowing students to be able to reach a faster return on investment, whether it be with regards to college, trade school, or bootcamp learning. A hurdle which was significant for me personally was getting out and about and talking up CertificationPoint, as I’m more of an introvert. I can recall being invited to pitch CertificationPoint at the Ascent Conference in New York City a couple of years back. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach increase as my turn on stage quickly approached. At one point, I had a thought of telling the host Mr. Giles that I was not able to make it today when my turn came. What was interesting is that when I stepped on stage, the butterflies went away and the pitch went very well.

What does the future hold for CertificationPoint?

In the future, I see CertificationPoint as not only the top worldwide platform for students and businesses to collaborate, but also for students to collaborate with other students worldwide. Up to this point, students and businesses have both spoken in very positive terms of how much value CertificationPoint has to offer. Continuing to make the correct pivots and achieve great product market fit are high on the list of core objectives for CertificationPoint.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Shreveport?

As for the startup scene in Shreveport, strides have been taken to help maximize overall exposure for the areas startups. I believe being close to a major hub like Dallas has helped startups in surrounding areas.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

As far as advice for those looking to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, I would say that there will be highs and lows, but don’t let yourself get too high nor too low when those times come upon you. Each individual’s journey is going to be different, but I believe a lot of life’s experiences, along with experiences we may not have encountered for whatever reason, can help ease or cause significant delays as you’re transitioning from one phase to the other. I reached retirement after spending 20 years in the military, and one thought I always come back to from time to time during various situations is the motto of don’t be afraid to ‘Do The Work’.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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