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About the Episode

The what's what...

In just a moment, you’ll meet Clayton Dean and Joe Lapin from Circa Interactive.

After a brief stint in sports marketing, Clayton started working at Deltech which would eventually become Wiley Education Services.  It was there that he fell in love with higher education and began dreaming about the possibility of starting his own company that served the industry.

Around this time, he also fell in love with something else — well, someone else, actually.  And while he didn’t know it at the time, that someone would not only become his wife, but also introduce him to his future business partner, Joe, who would also become his future brother-in-law.

Ten points if you followed all of that...and if not, no worries, Clayton and Joe tell the story so much better!

Joe Lapin had just finished up his MFA and was working in media in Los Angeles. Joe is a remarkable writer and saw an opportunity to help colleges and universities tell their stories in ways that compelled students to enroll.  

Over casual drinks one evening, while watching the sun set in southern California, Clayton further fleshed out his vision for a different kind of digital marketing agency...and this vision compelled Joe to take a risk and join Clayton and Robert (Circa’s other Co-Founder) on the start-up journey. 

Tune in to hear how Clayton and Joe grew the team from 4 to 50 and why they decided to join forces with Archer Education. 

One final note — this is part one in a special two-part Starter Stories series about the Archer/Circa story with a stronger emphasis on the building of Circa.  To hear the origin story of Archer, and to better understand what the news of the merger felt like on their side of the house, stream Part 2 of this series!

About the Podcast

Zach Busekrus


Zach Busekrus

Zach is the Founder of Enrollify. He thoroughly enjoys building new brands, developing and executing content marketing strategies, and hosting podcasts. When he's not working on Enrollify, he enjoys discussing life's quandaries over coffee (or a good bourbon) with friends, building Sponstayneous (his travel brand side hustle), trying out new HIIT workouts, and adventuring across the globe with his wife!

Clayton Dean


Clayton Dean

Clayton Dean is currently the Senior Vice President at Archer Education. Prior to his time at Archer, Clayton was the co-founder and chief operating officer at Circa Interactive, a higher education consulting agency based out of San Diego, CA, as well as the Co-founder of Circa Health, a Colorado-based Mental Wellness Platform designed for students. After chasing his dream of working in professional sports (NBA, MLB, Speedo) in the two years after college, Clayton found his true passion: higher education. Over the last twelve years, Clayton has partnered with dozens of top institutions to plan, develop and deploy high-quality online graduate programs, including Harvard University, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Colorado, University of Southern California, Duquesne University, and more. Clayton was a four-year member of the Men's swimming program at Duquesne, serving as captain his senior year, and holds two bachelor's degrees in business administration and sports marketing (2007). Connect with Clayton on social media.  Twitter: @claytdean LinkedIn:

Joseph Lapin


Joseph Lapin

As the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Circa Interactive, Joseph Lapin has created a career around his core passions: storytelling, strategy, marketing, education, and consumer behavior. His journey started after he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a freelance journalist and wrote for publications like the LA Times, LA Weekly, Slate, and many more. Joseph brought those storytelling skills to Circa Interactive, where he helped build a digital marketing company focused on creating marketing strategies and brand campaigns for top-tier higher education institutions. Circa Interactive has made the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row, and Joseph is proud of how much they’ve grown in a short time. As Joseph builds his career as an advertising professional, he still works on his craft as an author and essayist. He writes at

Starter Stories

Starter Stories is a podcast that explores the stories behind the world’s leading education technology companies and education consultancies...and the people who created them. In each episode, you’ll hear about the grit, the strategies, the wins, the failures, and the serendipity that transpired to take a half-baked idea and bring it to life. 

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