Scholar’s Voice™ Origin Story
Did you catch last week’s episode on the company rebrand? Were you left with questions like, who, what, where, when, and why? If you’re like me, you LOVE a good behind-the-scenes peek at things, and that’s exactly what you’ll get here!
In episode 151, Cathy talks all about the trajectory of what is now our company called Scholar’s Voice™, how she founded it in 2017, what happened along the way, and why in 2023, we are doing this big brand revision.
Moving from Cathy Mazak LLC to Scholar’s Voice™ was an external shift to reflect changes that had been happening internally for some time, and this episode peels the layers back on all the things that have happened in the last few years in order to finally make it to this place of the rebrand!
Becoming a full professor as a mom of three:
I was a mom of three, I had become a full professor, I had founded the first qualitative research center on our campus, The University of Puerto Rico, and I had brought in over half a million dollars in federal funding.
In 2014, my publication life started to really take off on bilingualism in the classroom.
Between 2014-2017, I really developed that line of research. I also had my last baby in 2016, and took a full maternity leave.
I also tried working through an MLM as a side hustle to help make ends meet for my family, and realized it wasn’t very lucrative or successful. In the process of doing that. I enrolled in a course in personal branding through my University and took my first online course in 2016 which helped me realize I was interested and could be successful in the online course creation world.
People began asking me how I was managing teaching a 4×4 load, being a mom of 3, and still had time to publish. I realized I had a lot to offer on this topic, and I began blogging at cathymazak.com for women professors to coach them on how to produce publications while juggling teaching and life as a whole.
I hired a personal coach to help me set up the beginnings of my online business in 2017, and she helped me really get my brand and company name out in the academic world.
That’s how I started growing the business in 2017. And in the summer of 2017, I put out my first version of Navigate. It was called the Academic Women’s Writing Roadmap, as a digital course with recorded videos. All in all in 2017, I made around $25,000, mostly with Navigate, but also with a virtual writing retreat.
I hired an OBM in 2017 to help with the tech side of the business, and that helped me to grow even more.
Growing the business as a full-time professor:
I began doing 1:1 coaching, hosting writing retreats, and developed the Organize Your Academic Life Course (which we still give to people who enroll in Amplify or Elevate!)
That year, we went from making $25,000 to making $100,000. These numbers I’m giving you our top-line revenue numbers. I don’t want to get into all of the total expenses, and taxes, and everything like that. Because I don’t think it’s useful unless you’re a business person who wants all that level of detail.
In 2018 I was still working my full-time job as a professor, and then on the side and on the weekends, I would be working on the business. I was always so excited to work on my business because there were some hard parts of working in the University system.
I hired another team member this year.
Leaving the university:
In 2019 I began getting itchy to leave my University job. I just loved the creation aspect of the business, and started looking toward making an exit.
I joined a program that helped me further expand and develop the business.
I launched Amplify in May 2019, and that year we made almost $400,000.
May 2019 was the last time I taught University classes, and I took an unpaid leave of absence from my teaching position. Right after that, I went on the hunt for coaches to help me deliver particularly our Amplify program, and that’s how I found Gina and Rocío, who are still on my team today!
At this point, I was paying my personal business coach and still had 2 team members helping me on the back end of things, and had hired 2 people to help deliver and co-create my programs as coaches, for a total of 4 team members alongside me.
In September of 2019, we launched the Academic Womxn Amplified Podcast!
At the end of 2019, we created and launched Elevate, which is our mid-career program.
Growing the team with our academic coaching programs:
We headed into 2020 with quite a range of programs: Amplify, Elevate, and Navigate.
Gina became a full-time coach for us, and we grew so much this year as a team. All in all, we had LaToya, Paulette, Gina, Rocío, and then we had different contractors, and one of them was Esther.
We grew from $400,000 in top-line revenue in 2019 to $667,500, in top-line revenue in 2020.
We had to cancel our in-person writing retreat in July of 2020 but had so many other fun wins throughout the year.
2020 was when we increased in revenue, and we grew by 50%.
The sometimes scary experience of running a business:
In 2021, we wanted to really focus on marketing, so we brought in a marketing assistant and a customer service assistant.
We grew the team a lot in marketing, but our revenue didn’t really grow. So in 2021, we made $735,000 but had a larger team of 7-8 people as we had also added on Thea as a coach and Yulia as a copywriter, and we were not bringing in enough new revenue to support a team that size. That was the first time in the business where there were months I couldn’t pay myself, and it was scary. But, that’s part of being a business owner and the risks that you have to take.
In 2021, we also shut down the Facebook group and took any of our program groups off of Facebook as we considered where community happened and what was most reflective of our beliefs as a business.
We decided that we would focus a lot of energy on the podcast, and have that be the main way people found us and joined our programs.
2021 was a rocky revenue year that I didn’t want to experience again, so we cut some things because I didn’t want to spend money on them and became more frugal as a company in some areas. 2022 saw more growth as we hired Teresa, and saw some shifts in job roles throughout the company.
In 2022, we made $774,000, but with fewer overall expenses for the company as a whole than the year before.
Looking ahead: aligning our vision in 2023:
We announced our new company name, Scholar’s Voice™!
I am the main outside voice of the company because of the podcast, webinars, etc. but then when you get into the program you hear different voices from the coaches. Also over the course of 2020 to 2022, we really did a lot of work on diversity, equity, and inclusion. And in the process of doing that, we wrote a value statement, and we created a structure for our business. Because of all of these things, we wanted to better align the outside vision of the company with the inside vision.
We’re getting the new company name, logos, colors, websites, and more getting rolled out this year! You’ll hear more voices on the podcast, blogging updates, and major program revisions.
There are lots of new things on the horizon, so keep your eyes open for more info coming your way!!
QUOTE #1: “One of the things that anybody tells you when you’re starting a business, is to think about ‘What’s the thing that people ask you about all the time?’ Or ‘How did you do that?’ Or ‘Wow, it’s so interesting, you did this.’ That is could be something that could turn into a business idea.”
QUOTE #2: “Throughout every moment that I’ve been in business, I have had a business coach, either through programs or one on one coaching. I’ve always invested a pretty good chunk of change in coaching.”
QUOTE #3: “The company became bigger than me. It’s not just me. It’s not just about me. It’s really about the hundreds and hundreds of clients that we’ve helped. It’s about this team that we have co-creating the programs with the clients. And it’s so much about voice, and not just my voice. It’s really about voices, and about your voice, and how we can support you in making your voice louder and more influential and more impactful in your field.”
Join our Pilot Navigate Program:
We are going to offer Navigate as a 12-week program to test out some changes we are considering making. It will run from February 2023- Mid-May 2023. In addition to our core Navigate curriculum, which we are reorganizing, reordering, and revising for this pilot version, what we’re looking for is 10 to 20 academics who want to do this new pilot version of Navigate.
There will be more details to come on this in the coming weeks, so make sure you’re on our email list to get all the details first!
Continue the conversation:
- Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors with a disruptive perspective on their field to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Get on the waitlist here!
- Cathy’s book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing is available in print! Learn how to build your career around your writing practice while shattering the myths of writing every day, accountability, and motivation, doing mindset work that’s going to reshape your writing, and changing academic culture one womxn and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
- Want to train with us for free on your campus? Now you can when you recommend our Scholar’s Voice™ Faculty Retreats to a decision-maker on your campus! Download the brochure with the retreat curriculum and both in-person and online retreat options here.
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