Several years ago I heard the founders of Higher One speak at a Connecticut Venture Group meeting for entrepreneurs. I was really impressed. So imagine my excitement when I read that they had taken their company public! Very few companies are going public, which is one reason venture capital is so hard to come by right now.
Higher One is a service that works with the burser's office of a college to handle all the student-related monetary transactions -- financial aid, student meal plan cards, etc. It helps the college take in and disburse money more efficiently.
I was doing the college tours at the time I heard the presentation, so I understood its value to students immediately. It made perfect sense for a student to have just one card -- their college ID card -- that would double as a debit card, enabling them to pay tuition, purchase food and books, keep track of financial aide, etc. The founders were all students at Yale who saw the need and went about trying to fill it. The founders, Sean Glass, Mark Volchek and Miles Lasater were very smart in how they went about building their company and raising money. They were also lucky because they had good contacts in the investment banking and private equity world. (One reason it's so hard to get into a university like Yale.) The young men set out not just to raise revenue, but also to generate a profit. In the go-go dot-com years, what they were doing was highly unusual, as most companies and investors didn't care about profit. But they researched the market and tweaked their business plan until they arrived with a viable company.
It's been a long haul.
But now, their profit-orientation has paid off. I hope the stock does well.
See article in NY Times.