Growing Silicon Bayou: Meet Casey Bienvenu, a big reason why SchoolMint is moving its operations to Lafayette | Business

Back again in 2004, when information know-how was slowly becoming mainstream and Carencro Substantial School’s Academy of Information and facts Technology was beginning, teacher Joel Hilbun sought out a pupil to design and style an on the net application sort for the plan.

Enter Casey Bienvenu.

A sophomore then, he was somebody who could usually be identified in the again of the course functioning on initiatives. He had already purchased a laptop with cash gained mowing lawns. And he and Hilbun experienced previously worked on a application that tracked athletics stats although game titles ended up likely on.

The on line application worked, but Bienvenu kept tinkering with it. So substantially that it was later adopted by the faculties in Lafayette Parish. And he stored tinkering.

So a lot so that when he commenced doing the job with Firefly Electronic of Lafayette just after faculty and obtained a call in 2012 from East Baton Rouge Parish officers who were being interested the application — which didn’t even have a identify then — a little something occurred.

“When Firefly arrived to me mainly because East Baton Rouge contacted them and preferred to use the process, that’s when the mild bulb went off,” reported Bienvenu, who now lives in Billings, Montana. “Maybe we have obtained something here. That’s how Wise Option (Systems) arrived to be.”

Tech company SchoolMint to move operations to Lafayette, creating 178 jobs with average salary of $74K

Smart Decision not only arrived to be, but it was the seed planted on a development that took about seven a long time to blossom. It grew from a one particular-male procedure into just one that merged with FireFly Electronic and in 2019 with San Francisco-dependent SchoolMint, which introduced Monday its plan to go away Silicon Valley and move its 178-worker functions to Lafayette.

Bienvenu is now the company’s main software architect.

“Casey is a fairly astounding man,” SchoolMint CEO Bryan MacDonald explained. “He is the traditional form of get-it-finished laptop professional. To have him start out as a sophomore with a web type and switch that into a product or service that hundreds of school districts are applying is pretty extraordinary. It was a excellent surroundings for that corporation to improve, and we’re assured it is going to continue on to be a wonderful one particular for us to expand.”

The tale helps make for excellent storytelling, but inside of it is also a tale of a transitioning tech marketplace and how a simple plan, challenging do the job and connections brought a significant business to a mid-sized marketplace in south Louisiana. Bienvenu, who commenced as an intern at Firefly Digital and later worked there after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in computer science in 2009, was a tireless employee, always with his notebook, his parents observed.

“It was virtually a 24-hour deal with him when he initially started off with Intelligent Selection,” explained his father, Morris Bienvenu. “He was the only programmer.”

Clever Alternative began specializing in on-line applications and lottery administration devices. The additional it grew, the far more it commenced to compete versus a huge company dependent in Silicon Valley with places of work in New York and Miami. In November, that massive company — SchoolMint — joined forces with Clever Preference and introduced Bienvenu on board. Firefly Digital CEO Mike Spears also came on board as a strategic adviser to MacDonald’s leadership team.

Now it lists by itself as the major supplier in enrollment administration alternatives to faculty district and charter educational facilities throughout the nation. It serves about 9 million college students and 18,000 educational facilities.

“You get to the place where by the big jobs get harder,” Bienvenu claimed. “We had so several things heading on. If there was a bid, it was us and SchoolMint pretty substantially competing for the very same bid. So we lastly made a decision, ‘Let’s quit fighting and pulling in opposition to every other and get started pulling in the very same route.’ Blended, we’re the leader in that room.”

Leaving Silicon Valley

The exodus of corporations from Silicon Valley have been nicely-documented. Studies cite the state’s high tax amount and the climbing cost of residing so substantially that a company’s profits jumps and employees get raises just by a corporation packing up and leaving.

When SchoolMint resolved it essential to glance elsewhere, it seemed at several areas. But when Debbey Ryan with the Lafayette Women’s Chamber encouraged Lafayette throughout a November meeting with Spears, that could have also place points in movement.

“We realized this could be probably sport-modifying for us,” MacDonald said. “We approach to notify all people else in the tech group what we have uncovered about Louisiana.”

In Lafayette, it’s yet another get in the opposition to lure tech providers to the location. It was that Tech South Summit in 2005 at the Cajundome that received persons speaking about building Silicon Bayou, a hub for tech firms in the region. Fifteen a long time later the final results are there: CGI, Perficient,, Waitr and other people. CGI hopes to increase its personnel rely to 800 when it opens a downtown Lafayette locale upcoming yr.

The arrival of CGI, the fifth-most significant information technological know-how companies corporation in the planet, manufactured Lafayette a spot in the earth of tech corporations, mentioned Ramesh Kolluru, vice president of innovation, exploration and financial improvement at the College of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Lafayette space experienced 1,400 pc and mathematical occupations as of May possibly, in accordance to data compiled by the Lafayette Financial Improvement Authority.

“We often converse about it, correct? Silicon Valley, Silicon Bayou,” Kolluru mentioned. “This is one thing the local community has been making ready for for a prolonged time. We’ve had prior successes in going organizations to Lafayette from other components of the world, including Silicon Valley. But none this huge. We’re psyched.”

Tech employment are arriving in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards famous for the duration of Monday’s announcement, and lots of of them are luring Louisiana natives back to their dwelling condition. SchoolMint will shift promptly in its using the services of, with MacDonald asserting Monday his corporation has delivers out to six men and women and will team with LEDA to host a profession fair before long to seek the services of 15 more.

Kolluru explained the university will also shift speedily to modify its curriculum to meet SchoolMint’s workforce desires.

“We’re in it for the prolonged haul,” Kolluru reported. “We’re not delighted with 180 or 179, just like we were being not content with CGI’s 400. We want them to double their dedication at some stage in the around upcoming.”

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