Balancing life as a student and CEO

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Cory Pinegar
BYU students Cory Pinegar, left, and Conner Ludlow together in their Provo office for Callforce, a dental solutions company. (Cory Pinegar)

BYU students Cory Pinegar and Conner Ludlow found themselves working their dream jobs after a split decision made on a gut feeling.

An economics major, Pinegar acquired a division of the tech company Weave called Recall Solutions at the end of 2016. He split the investment with a partner, making Pinegar the CEO of a company at 22 years old.

“We had to figure it out for ourselves,” Pinegar said. “I’ve never billed anyone, or kept the books straight, or figured how to insure (a company) properly or any of these things. It was more like we said yes and we were in the ocean by ourselves.”

If acquiring a company sounds like a huge task for a 20-something-year-old, that’s because it is. But, it’s becoming more common in the modern technological age.

“Millenipreneurs”, entrepreneurs ranging in age from 20 to 35, are managing larger businesses at a much younger age than their baby boomer predecessors, according to BNP Paribas. Thirty-two percent of the world’s entrepreneurs are under the age of 35.

Pinegar’s involvement with the dental solutions company goes back a few years prior to his acquisition. He returned home from his LDS mission in Australia in 2015 and his aunt worked for Weave’s chief operating officer at the time. The company offered Pinegar $500 to clean an office storage room he described as “the worst thing you could ever see.”

From there, Pinegar was offered a part-time job at Weave. He worked his way up to a managerial position and became good friends with brothers Brandon and Jared Rodman, founders of Weave.

In November 2016, the Rodmans were looking to sell Recall Solutions because they were taking Weave in a more automated direction. They sold the division to Pinegar and his partner Kasey Henson, a student at Utah Valley University.

Recall Solutions was renamed and rebranded to become Callforce, a customer retention business focused in the dental industry. The company works with dental offices to call patients who are overdue for their next dental check-up.

Those reminder phone calls are traditionally made by dental office staff. Callforce’s primary service is to make those calls during evening hours when people are more likely to be home.

“When offices call during the day, about 91 percent of their calls go to voicemail,” Pinegar said. “When we call at night, 82 percent of our calls go to voicemail. We’re even more effective than doing it in-house.”

Callforce has clients all across the country, with the majority clustered along both coasts.

Pinegar says Callforce is working towards a milestone goal of reaching 1,000 clients. They have currently achieved 10 percent of their goal. But the young team is experiencing rapid growth and is excited about where the company is headed, according to Pinegar.

“We have so many tasks to work on, I could work 100 straight hours if I had the physical capacity and we’d still have more to do,” Pinegar said. “I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes so excited about something, I’ll work for a couple of hours and then fall back asleep.”

Pinegar works alongside BYU information systems major Conner Ludlow to run the company. The two met through a mutual friend and got to know each other as roommates during the 2016-2017 school year. Pinegar hired Ludlow as head of sales after acquiring the company.

Ludlow, who had previous experience working in a call center, handles all the cold-calling Callforce specializes in. He also uses his information systems knowledge to study the company’s analytics and improve web development.

“Conner is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen, period,” Pinegar said. “I knew out of pure fact of the matter he would be a really good addition.”

Pinegar and Ludlow recall transitioning customers from Weave as being one of their earliest challenges as business leaders. The two BYU students found themselves one night working on an email to notify Recall Solutions customers of the business’s transition to become Callforce. That email took them eight hours to draft and send. Now they can make an email in 20 to 30 minutes.  

“A huge obstacle that we’ve overcome is our inexperience,” Ludlow said. “We both had pretty good ideas of what we were getting ourselves into and had a good background to be able to do it.”

Pinegar’s father, Brett Pinegar, graduated from BYU with a degree in economics in 1990. His background in business has been an asset to Pinegar as Callforce expands. The opportunity has brought father and son closer despite Brett Pinegar’s initial apprehension of  his son’s acquisition.

Brett Pinegar stands on the sidelines as a supporter for Pinegar and his team. But he tries not to “helicopter in.” He offers advice to Pinegar when he seeks it, especially when it comes to staying focused.

“Early in the process I had several concerns about potential risks, but we talked through them,” Brett Pinegar said. “As things continued to unfold, the highs and the lows, Cory and I talked all the time. It was a real joy to see him learn and experience the process of starting and growing a business.”

Leading Callforce is a lifelong dream come true for Pinegar and Ludlow. The two are both committed to the company, wherever it may take them for however long that may be. They agree they probably won’t be at Callforce for their entire careers, but their passion for the problem-solving side of entrepreneurship is something that will stick with them.

Pinegar said faith has played a large part in his ability to roll with the punches in business and his personal life. He has overcome plenty of challenges as Callforce’s CEO in the company’s first 10 months. He believes this learning experience is helping him to constantly improve and become more Christlike.

The balance of work, school and personal time may seem impossible for college students. Pinegar’s advice to students is to enjoy what they’re doing and be determined, no matter what their career path or extracurriculars may be.

“Work harder than you ever could,” Pinegar said. “When you think it’s not working, work harder. Don’t back off easy.”

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