Data Analytics is a Family Affair at Educational Measures

Accidental family-business owners track engagement

When brothers Marc and Michael Crawford founded Educational Measures in 2003, they hardly set out to start a family business. The Ohio transplants were just trying to make a living by making live meetings more engaging.

Marc – Educational Measures’ CEO – had wrapped up his MBA, and Michael was looking for a change. So the siblings scraped together some capital, found an office in Golden and “slowly brought on both clients and employees,” says Michael, now Educational Measures’ chief technology officer.

Over a decade, the head count at Educational Measures has mushroomed to include 75 staff members, including Ryan Crawford, Marc and Michael’s youngest brother, who was intrigued by the startup’s potential.

“There’s been such a void in live meetings,” says Marc, pointing to a gap between common forms of assessment and technology. Despite what’s available, Marc says, “People continue to use paper-based evaluations and basic polling through mobile phones” — two tools that limit an evaluator’s ability to collect and measure data pertaining to impact and engagement.

The Crawford brothers launched their company with a pre-fabricated Audience Response System, but quickly moved into “the real technology,” says Marc, describing his brand’s proprietary software, EM Array, which he dubs, “Our foray from reporting into analytics and data visualization.”

EM Array software is deployed on second screen technology – smartphones and tablets – to help meeting planners understand how audiences engage during live meetings. With everything from clickable buttons to simulation and gaming platforms, Marc says, “Any time somebody is engaging with content, we’re measuring that.” By collecting unique data points, Educational Measures is able to create predictive models, too, that help planners develop more engaging meetings in the future. 

As fascinating as the tech is, it’s the human interactions that really piqued the Crawfords’ interest. At Educational Measures, the Crawford brothers’ close-knit relationship serves as a model for the entire company.

“Coming from the same household, we already shared a set of morals,” Michael says. Those values have influenced every aspect of business, right down to the hiring decisions. “When we add employees, it feels like we’re adding family members,” Michael says. “And when we suffer a loss, the whole company feels it.”

The brothers say mutual respect is the key to working with siblings on and off the clock. “Mike and I look at things very differently, but over the years, I’ve come to respect the differences in opinion and personality,” Marc says. “Most important,” he adds, “is making sure your ego doesn’t get in the way.”

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