Kevin Conroy grew up in California, earned an undergraduate degree, and went to work for a large company. But what he really wanted to do was be an entrepreneur.
“The driver for an entrepreneur, the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, is the target size of your company—where are you trying to get to?” says Conroy. “But the more important number is what’s on the balance sheet. I needed to shift my focus from a top line number to a bottom line number.
“A primary reason I went back to school was to increase my business knowledge in a few specific areas. Generally speaking, I wanted to add to my bag of tools so I could be more agile in the face of change. I had previously launched a company and experienced positive growth, but that venture ultimately failed. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, but I didn’t have a finance or accounting background and I wanted to improve my ability to read economic conditions and respond accordingly.”
Conroy launched Blue Rooster, a technology company focused on helping Fortune 500 companies build globally connected enterprises, in 2000. Two years later he joined the Foster School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) Program.
When the recession hit in 2008, it threatened to undo everything he had built. “We made a lot of changes in 2008—changes driven by what I’d learned. We changed the strategy and direction of the company. We did a significant layoff, and we decided to focus on one piece of the market, do it really well, and charge a premium for it.”
Blue Rooster not only survived, but tripled its business, growing to 50 employees and attracting large, globally distributed clients. Conroy works tirelessly to nourish the entrepreneurial spirit in those big companies, in his local community and at the Foster School, where he regularly serves as a judge in business plan competitions.
Conroy sees small businesses as the prime engine for job growth and he passionately supports the momentum that’s turned the U-District, Fremont and South/North Lake Union neighborhoods into hubs for new businesses. “Whether it’s networking with other businesses, helping aspiring entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground or growing my own company—I’m using my knowledge and experience to power business success.”