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About the Episode

The what's what...

In just a moment, you’ll meet Brian Hartnack, founder and CEO of Archer Education, an education technology company dedicated to personalizing student recruitment.

Before finding his home in ed tech, Brian was quite active in the pre-dotcom-bubble startup scene in the late 90s. He worked at eToys,, and where he helped grow the company from an early stage startup to an eventual $415 million acquisition by eBay in 2005.

But perhaps the most interesting of Brian’s professional undertakings was the very first job he had which involved working with cowboys, fly fishing, and shoeing horses — you’ll have to listen for all the details.

In this episode, you’ll also meet Clayton Dean, Co-Founder of Circa Interactive, one of the leading digital advertising agencies in higher ed. 

After high school, Clayton went to Duquesne University on a swimming scholarship where he studied sports marketing and business administration.

After graduating, he worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Orlando Magic for a brief stint before taking a job at DelTech, which is now Wiley Education Services — and this is where his passion for higher education was solidified.

This passion ultimately led him to co-found Circa Interactive, which was acquired by Archer Education at the end of 2020. 

Tune in to hear Clayton and Brian talk about pivotal moments in their respective journeys as entrepreneurs and get a behind-the-scenes look into how and why they structured the merger the way they did.

One final note — this is part two of the Archer/Circa story with a stronger emphasis on the building of Archer.  To hear the origin story of Circa and better understand what the news of the merger felt like on their side of the house, stream Part 1 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:

Brian Hartnack


Brian Hartnack

Brian Hartnack is a founder and CEO of Archer Education, an education technology company dedicated to personalizing student recruitment. Working alongside university partners, Archer utilizes a comprehensive and fully integrated suite of best-in-class enrollment and marketing solutions. With the rise of online education, Brian is dedicated to effectively personalizing the enrollment journey for every individual student and expanding opportunities for non-traditional learners.  Prior to Archer, Brian held senior product management roles at and During his time at, Brian helped grow the company from an early stage to an eventual $415 million acquisition by eBay in 2005. Brian graduated from Cornell University in 1999 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. Today, Brian lives in Solana Beach, CA with his wife, two boys and two dogs.

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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