Hornet From Day One, Now Flying High in Computer World
Derrek Harter boasts that he was "a Hornet from day one."
Born in Emporia, Kan., Harter attended Emporia High School, and did not travel far to obtain a college degree enrolling at Emporia State University. His parents James and Dorine were both Emporia State graduates, and his father worked at the Emporia State University Office of International Education for more than 40 years. The office is now dedicated to James Harter and his wife and renamed the James F. and Dorine D. Harter Office of International Education.
The Hornet blood runs even deeper, though. Harter has seven aunts and uncles who attended and graduated from Emporia State.
"In addition, I've had many cousins attend Emporia State as well. Needless to say, Emporia State and my family have pretty deep roots."
But Hornets travel and their family roots blossom. Harter has now gone global.
In 2009, Harter and friend Scott Oppliger began developing their concept for a new company they named SocialVolt. This Internet-based company is now on the hot list, having been mentioned in Forbes, PCWorld, Silicon Prairie News, as well as many other publications, including reports by analyst firms like Forrester and Gartner.
It’s not too much of a reach to claim a soccer ball led them to set up a goal. The two friends play on a Tuesday night soccer league team in the Kansas City area.
"After our games we talked over dinner for several months about the business problems that social media will have on organizations," explained Harter. "In 2010 we formed the company and jumped in with a full head of steam. We raised capital in 2011 and built SocialVolt."
By late 2012, SocialVolt had more than 300 customers signed up.
"Today we have customers all over the United States and in about nine international countries," he continued. "The majority of our clients are currently engaging in social media and either have government regulations they must comply with or company policies around the risk management of engaging in social media."
SocialVolt allows organizations to bring structure, quality and control to their social media programs. They can publish content, manage workflow, listen across channels, and report results, all from one location. A large plus for SocialVolt users is to stop social media accidents before they go live. And it fits for companies of all types, including financial services, insurance, pharmaceutical, healthcare, advertising agencies, and retail businesses.
"We've been really excited and happy with the marketing message our company has been able to spread," said Harter. "Our regulatory bodies, such as the United State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), have slowly adopted guidelines and policies around social media, which we know has really slowed the adoption for many companies. This year we know a couple of more major regulatory bodies that will be issuing guidelines for social media. We see this as a very positive step for companies wanting to engage with their current clients and prospective clients."
When SocialVolt unveiled its "Channels" listening tool, the excitement was spread by highly thought of business magazines and sites. Channels is a brand monitoring tool that adds listening, publishing, moderation, and risk management features for clients. Forbes Magazine was one of the first to trumpet the good news.
"At the moment, if you’re in a regulated industry (i.e., finance, pharma, insurance) and/or you have serious concerns about risk management, SocialVolt deserves a look," wrote Anthony Wing Kosner in a Forbes Magazine story titled, Need Social Media Risk Management? SocialVolt's New Channels Has the Power."
These rave reviews and electric growth of SocialVolt's customer base, attest to Harter's talent. A bit of a surprise for a guy that entered college to be an artist and glass-former.
"When I first came to Emporia State, Harter said, "like all 18 year olds I had a major picked, but was not 100% sure it is what I wanted to pursue as a profession. I initially wanted to become an artist and study glass art. I had been taking glass art in high school for a couple of years and was even able to take a class at Emporia State during my senior year of high school. I enjoyed my first year at Emporia State, where I was a part of a fraternity and participated in being on the inter-fraternity council. During my first year at Emporia State like many students, I decided that I wanted to change my major to Business. Something in me said I no longer wanted to put my future in the arts from an artist standpoint. Thankfully Emporia State has such a great School of Business and is an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) accredited university, something only 5% of the business schools worldwide have achieved.
"I love Emporia State," continued Harter. "I’ve had so many good memories from ESU, but I think what I’ve enjoyed mostly is all the close personal connections that I made during college."