Setting up to scale
When Aaron McKenna joined University College of Dublin Professional Academy as CEO, the subsidiary functioned as a tiny startup within the larger university, with only three employees. Both Aaron and university leadership knew that growing the academy and offering more short-term training for professionals would help the university raise funds to support other departments.
As the first order of business, UCD Professional Academy needed to build the infrastructure they would need to scale quickly. Until then, the small team had been relying on unreconciled spreadsheets, internal university systems, and ad hoc collaboration tools.
“There was no infrastructure,” Aaron explains. “We weren’t geared to scale. We knew there was a very strong market for us to tap into, but we needed the right systems in place first.”
Finding the right CRM for growth
With plans for rapid growth, the Professional Academy chose HubSpot, a flexible, easy to use, all-in-one platform that would work well for them as a small startup and be able to scale with them as they grew and evolved.
“When we first did our customer experience mapping, it might sound really simple but it was really clear that we would need a website, a CRM to gather leads, a marketing engine, a sales engine, and a service engine. We had none of that. We wanted to try to get as much as possible from one vendor, ” Aaron says. “For a rapidly-growing team like ours, ease of access to these powerful tools and features is really important. We don't have time for big tech projects to unlock value, we needed plug and play.”
Quickly gathering valuable data
With HubSpot in place, UCD Professional Academy quickly hired their first sales team and used the platform to get their first marketing campaigns up and running. Within just a few months, they had their first entering class of 200 students—and lots of valuable lead data to analyze and use to optimize their next marketing campaigns.
“It was really quick turnaround,” Aaron says. “And at the end of it, we had all of this great data. We could use our HubSpot dashboards to easily see where our leads were coming from, what platforms and advertising campaigns had worked best for us. And from there, we could make data-driven decisions about what we wanted to do next.”
Data-driven decision making
UCD Professional Academy uses the data they gather with HubSpot to make lucrative business decisions. When leads reach out, UCD used HubSpot’s forms and properties to collect information on who their employers are. With that data in hand, the sales team can pitch those companies directly to rapidly build corporate partnerships.
“We began to see that one in three of the individuals who were coming to us were sponsored by their employer. And we were able to see who that employer was and reach out to them directly. Much of that data is all there in the system,” Aaron explains. “We now have a thousand corporate clients who have bought multiple seats off of us.”
When Aaron meets with clients, having all of that data at his fingertips also helps him and his sales team prepare. “We can just open their company record and see what deals we have with them, if they’re having issues, anything we need to be aware of before walking into a meeting,” he says. “And we’re able to do that really quickly and easily. Having that view of things is very powerful.”
100,000+ leads in their database
With HubSpot in place since day one, UCD Professional Academy has been able to grow their leads database extensively: they’ve now collected over 100,000 leads, and they can continue to market courses to older leads. Around 25% of their revenue now comes from leads that are over six months old, improving lifetime value (LTV) significantly. “That has been super transformative for our business,” Aaron says. “The economics of our business changed completely.”
On top of that, HubSpot also helps UCD stay compliant by design as they work with this large and growing database, an important requirement for any company operating in Europe.
Scaling with their business
From a team of three full-time employees, UCD PA has grown to 200 full and part-time staff. HubSpot’s clean data, easy integrations and flexible systems have made it easy for the CRM to scale with them. They’ve connected HubSpot to WhatsApp for Business, their VoIP Nuacom, and their shopping cart. “The integrated nature of HubSpot in terms of sales, marketing, and service sitting in one place has been super helpful and helped us to get over some of the friction that comes from scaling a business quickly,” Aaron says.
He’s thrilled with the choice to implement HubSpot to help power their growth. “We had a relatively small business as a startup, and our business became a lot more complicated over time,” he says. “HubSpot has been with us every step of the way. We’ve been able to use the app marketplace for lots of valuable integrations, and we’ve also been able to integrate with some of the university systems to manage student information. There’s a nice openness to the platform that’s helpful when you want to put those types of things in place.”
From 0 to 8-figure revenue
Today, UCD Professional Academy has been using HubSpot CRM for over three years. In that time, they’ve gone from $0 to 8-figure revenue. They credit HubSpot’s ability to surface valuable data and streamline communication across teams with their success. They’ve doubled the amount of available business they are closing, from 10% to 20%.
“We're sort of a data-obsessed business. We've found lots of opportunities thanks to having a clean data setup with HubSpot,” Aaron says. “We can easily access everything that we want to understand as a business, and then get that data out in a way that we're able to action. The system was really responsive to what we needed and helped us to identify pools of value, as well as helping us to deliver a great student experience.”
Their customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as well, with a CSAT over 90%. 100% of their corporate clients say they would purchase from them again.
“Of course that speaks to the high quality product we deliver and our fantastic team. But we have had great comments from buyers about how easy they find it to work with us compared to others in the same market, and I ascribe a good chunk of that to the integrated approach within HubSpot,” Aaron concludes.