Conner ’11 and Jordan ’13 Burt—brothers from Elkhart, Indiana—came to Butler for similar reasons. The people. The size. The athletics. The feeling … you know, the one where you just know it’s where you belong.
While at Butler, both studied Economics—Conner an Economics major with a minor in Business, and Jordan a double major in Economics and Finance— and both played soccer.
Jordan’s favorite Butler memory is playing Indiana University in the Sellick Bowl with 5,000 fans in the stands. “The game was wild in itself, but we ended up coming back from a 2-0 deficit when David Goldsmith sent in a game-winner during overtime. That was a special day.”
And Conner credits Butler Soccer for teaching him how fulfilling it can be to reach toward a common goal with like-minded individuals. “It made me appreciate ‘the underdog’ and, to this day, I’ve always tried to find situations that allow me to play that role.”
To most people, being an entrepreneur is a lot like being the underdog. You aren’t the “safe bet,” so you have to enjoy taking risks. And you’re going to need to work twice as hard to be successful, so you better have incredible drive. Conner and Jordan both possess these traits and, with them being brothers, it makes most question the role genetics play in the matter. But, we aren’t here to discuss the nature vs. nurture of it all.
During Jordan’s first year at Butler, he “got very fired up about entrepreneurship” in his Real Business Experience class. As he continued into his junior and senior year, his “classes and internships really fueled the flame.”
Not surprisingly, Conner can relate. “Experimentation and opportunity was encouraged. From the Real Business Experience to independent studies, I realized the challenge and fun in starting something new.”
In fact, both Conner and Jordan helped start the Butler Farm and Conner tried to build a compost business during his time at Butler. “Seven years later, I still think about a lot of lessons I learned through those experiences,” Conner confesses.
These lessons have served him well. After graduation, Conner completed an Orr Fellowship, which places high-potential college graduates with Indianapolis-based technology companies. His first job—which turned out to be in sales—was with a software startup called iGoDigital. Conner loved the challenge and helping solve customer problems.
Eventually, ExactTarget acquired the startup and, then, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget. Through the transitions, Conner got involved with training—these new companies needed to learn about iGoDigital in order to sell it, which is what Conner had been doing for two years. So, he spent a lot of time on assignment in London, Australia, and all over the United States.
During this time, Conner became a friend and roommate of Max Yoder. Yoder needed clients to test out his new training product, so they tested it at ExactTarget. As Conner shares, “It worked splendidly. It cut my travel time in half, and everyone who used it, loved it.”
Conner joined Yoder at Lessonly, where he currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer, which means, “focusing on new initiatives that present large opportunities and/or the biggest challenges we’re facing at any given time.”
According to Conner, “Lessonly has more than doubled in size each of the last five years and was ranked one of the Top 3 Best Small Business Cultures in the United States by Entrepreneur.” Quite an accomplishment for a startup.
Back when Lessonly had only three employees, Jordan worked with Conner, helping him sell the software for a year and a half. He also was playing soccer with the Carolina Railhawks.
While his friends were applying for corporate jobs after graduation, Jordan was trying to land a position on a pro soccer team. He admits it wasn’t a smooth path, but he is happy he took the risk.
“The soccer world is an uncertain one in which your career could end at any time, so I have tried to always find balance in doing other work, exploring interesting topics, and, now, starting my own business,” explains Jordan.
He found his passion while completing internships during his time at Butler. His first, in corporate finance at Zillow in Seattle, had some great perks but was not something that would excite him every day. His next experience at Techstars, a startup accelerator for tech companies in Boulder, Colorado, is where he found the contagious excitement and energy he wanted.
Now, Jordan is playing professional soccer with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club and is Co-Founder of Pro Performance (properformance.guru).
While he and Conner may not work together directly anymore, Jordan’s business uses Lessonly. “We get a killer deal.”