By Lindsay Lansing
Former BYU student Mark Leck sat in his office, dressed in business attire, behind a desk filled with gadgets of modern technology. Few would realize that they were looking at a rifleman and college dropout. But Leck, who was barely a sophomore at BYU, quit his electrical engineering studies to pursue his entrepreneurial quests.
“I had an awesome experience at BYU,” Leck said. “I loved it. I think that education is one of the most important things in my life.”
Although education is important, it isn”t always critical to success. Leck”s company, which is not open to disclosing financial information, has grown by over 60 percent within the last six months and its software is sold to thousands of agents nationwide, and marketed by top real estate coaching companies. They are recognized as the leading Expired Listing service in the country, and have started to become a household name amongst agents, with literally thousands of agents now using the service.
Leck”s decision to quit school was not an easy endeavor, and it did not happen all at once. After Leck returned home from his mission in Australia, his business partner and friend, Jayson Jorgensen, whom he had worked with before his mission, contacted him and presented him with ideas for starting up a business together.
“He wanted me to help him develop software for real estate agents, and I really liked his idea,” Leck said.
Their company, The RedX, develops software that provides leads to real estate agents, and offers a way to more efficiently import, manage and maximize their owner and property data. These agents are able to contact and access The RedX software and find out detailed data about the property and owner”s information.
As Leck began to work more with the company, his priorities began to change, and the slow transition between The RedX and school took place.
“I didn”t quit school all at once,” Leck said. “I would work with the company during the day, and then take night classes.”
Leck”s wife, Amber, was a support to him during all of his business pursuits and during the transition period.
“When we first started dating, the company hadn”t completely started up yet,” Amber said. “I tried to encourage him because it made him happy. As things started to progress and take off, Mark went part time and after we got married, he stopped going to school, period.”
Many of Leck”s family and friends were worried about his decision to drop out of BYU.
“My mom kept asking me when I was going to take more classes,” Leck said. “She pressured me to take more classes, but I asked her ”Why do we go to college? Is it just to receive a piece of paper, or do students go to learn?””
Leck believes that school isn”t the only place to get an education.
“My business partner told me, as he quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt, ”don”t let school get in the way of a good education,”” Leck said. “I feel like you can learn wherever you are. The problem I got in with my mom is the motivations of why kids go to college. Many go to get a degree so that they can get a good job. If that”s why you are in college, I believe that you are pursuing education for the wrong reason.”
Leck does not fit the stereotype of a computer nerd who spends his free time applying white tape to his broken glasses, or organizing his pens by color in his pocket protector. Leck enjoys outdoor activities such as gun shooting and fishing.
“A Renaissance man,” is what David Ives, his former young men”s leader calls him.
Twin sister, Michelle Holt explained what a renaissance man truly is.
“It is someone that is well-rounded and enjoys variety in their education and activities,” Holt said. “It is someone who appreciates the arts and culture, the higher-brow taste but still loves the outdoors and physical activities.”
Leck”s business pursuits started early when he and best friend Brett Horton tried to sell used golf balls after jumping into the pond and retrieving all the lost balls.
“When Brett and I were 12 years old we went swimming in the pond and got 150 golf balls to sell them to all the golfers,” Leck said. “We set up a stand, trying to sell the golf balls, but people weren”t buying very much.”
After waiting in frustration for customers, Leck and Horton would jump out of the bushes and pretend to beat up Leck”s little brother Paul. After the golfers saw this, they had compassion on the small 9-year-old brother – and needless to say, sales went up.
Not knowing which of boys came up the idea of how to increase their profits, Leck”s business mind was developing at an early age. Indicative of character, Leck has always been a creative thinker, and dedicated himself to those things that he pursues.
“When I first met Mark, he didn”t fish at all,” Horton said. “As I began to teach him, I realized pretty soon that he was really focused on learning. Even when fishing was a fun thing to go and do, he didn”t want to be just OK about doing it, he wanted to be really good. When he wants to learn something, he has the drive to get it. That kind of attitude has gotten Mark where he is right now. He”s dedicated when he puts his mind to something.”
Leck does have plans to go back to school. Independent study is an option that he is still considering for the future to prepare for whatever lies ahead.
“I plan every day that this business will go out,” Leck said. “Everything eventually comes to an end, so I try to prepare myself right now for the future. I know I could go back to school right now if I needed to, and I also feel confident that I could find jobs elsewhere if needed.”
In efforts to provide counsel for those college students who desire to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors instead of staying in school, Leck said, “I think that you need to do some risk assessment. What is the most likely chance of success? Whatever is the highest probability for success, that is what they should prioritize.”