Owners of Jackrabbit Technologies and Little Otter Swim School Discuss Inc. 5000 Recognition.

Jackrabbit Technologies and Little Otter Swim School: A Relationship Based on Growth

If you’ve ever met Mark Mahoney or John Kirk, you understand why they are successful entrepreneurs. They have all of the entrepreneurial symptoms: obsession with time management, expectations for rapid action, propensity for strategic thinking, insatiable curiosity, and intuition for exiting detrimental situations.

Yes, these are the five most common traits of serial entrepreneurs and obvious personality traits that Mark and John exhibit. Interviewing the two of them was interesting, especially since their businesses are intertwined in each other’s success: even in the two business’s accomplishments of making the Inc. 5000 list. The two entrepreneur-owners believe their growth is the product of a synergy between their two companies.

Watch a video of a recent conversation between the two here.

The Relationship Explained

Mark co-founded and – with his business partner – has successfully grown Jackrabbit Technologies into a $10M company that is the leader in providing a software service to children’s activity centers (gyms, dance studios, swim schools, music and martial arts schools, performing arts and child care centers). That’s a mouthful but it is the only way you’ll understand who Jackrabbit actually serves.

That knowledge is relevant because John Kirk’s Little Otter Swim School has been a Jackrabbit customer since 2010. During this time, not only did John’s original Matthews, NC location experience rapid growth, but John and his partner/wife, Lory, acted on the opportunity to purchase property and build a second swim school location in Huntersville, NC. The couple dreamed of designing and building a swim school from the ground up. While their Matthews location allowed them to renovate an existing building, it still didn’t provide the freedom of their ground-up design-and-build dream. The Huntersville location gave them this opportunity. In reality, the Huntersville location goes beyond their dream by illustrating their passion for teaching children to swim.  And the Huntersville location has experienced its own rapid growth scenario.

The Synergy Defined

Jackrabbit’s growth has a huge influence on Little Otter’s business because growth = increased revenues = reinvestment in development. And continuous development means that Jackrabbit’s software is always growing and changing to meeting Little Otter’s growing and changing needs.

Little Otter’s growth is a storybook for Jackrabbit’s prospective customers.  It exemplifies what happens when a company like John’s leverages technology to elevate the efficiency and excellence of its business operations. Jackrabbit uses automation to reduce the administrative staff’s efforts on manual, time-consuming tasks – meaning that Little Otter can grow without huge investment usually associated with high growth. By making his Matthews school incredibly productive and efficient, John and Lory could put the creation of their second location in motion.

Growth Accomplished

The template was in place. The Huntersville school replicated Matthews’ processes. Because Jackrabbit’s software infrastructure is growth-enabling, Little Otter was able to easily expand into a second location. Each school looks separately at its own operations and activities while John and Lory look at their entire business as well as each component’s contributions to the bottom line business. This kind of deep dive into data is exactly what business owners need to see to understand where they are in their short term goals and their long-term strategies.

The Secret Sauce

I mentioned Little Otter being a storybook for Jackrabbit’s effectiveness. Other owners want whatever John and Lory’s secret sauce is. One of the most critical ingredients in that sauce is Jackrabbit. The software basically means growth for children’s activity centers like Little Otter.

What does inclusion in the Inc. 5000 mean to these companies?

After all, they couldn’t be more different, right?

  • Jackrabbit provides software as a service to “class-based” organizations defined by the list of center types noted earlier.
  • Little Otter teaches kids to swim. Both, however, are recognized for sustained rapid growth.

These companies are not just recognized for growth, but sustained rapid growth by one of the most respected business magazines in the world, Inc. Magazine. Both are recognized for the excellence that they exhibit in providing their services to very different customers.

The Inc. 5000 recognition carries weight regardless what business recipients are in. For Jackrabbit and its 7-year place among Inc. 5000 honorees, the ranking validates efforts to do things well and to put systems in place to continue to fuel growth. It legitimizes its honorees as unique among the hundreds of thousands of businesses who are growing at a normal pace. The honor works for its recipients as a recruiting tool, a loyalty builder, and a source of pride – and graduates local success to the ranks of global successes. Very often – as with Little Otter in making the list for the first time this year – recognition is the culmination of efforts.

Read the Q&A from my Interview with John & Mark here.


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