Mark Hirsch, W'88, Founder of CreativeWorx
Mark Hirsch, W’88, enjoys making things happen. At 14, he began a software firm with friends, and sold it at 16 to Software City. While at Wharton, Mark opened a clothing store at 36th Street and Lancaster, and sold it in his senior year to another Philadelphia retailer that would ultimately go on to found Steve & Barry’s clothing chain.
Upon graduation, Mark offered to help friends in the film industry when they ran out of funding in the first week. Without industry knowledge, but with Wharton financial smarts, Mark traveled to New York City and cold-called Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Miramax and New Line Cinema, asking them to review day screenings. At one point while trying to reach an executive and seeing that a floor was closed to elevators, Mark stopped at the next floor, walked down a fire escape and met the executive, who did attend the screening. Those efforts eventually raised $1.3 million, and Mark was promoted from volunteer gofer to co-producer!
Mark went on to create one of the first interactive website ad agencies, started and ran a successful video technology business for almost a decade, and headed up the digital media practice for Adobe Global Consulting. His present enterprise, CreativeWorx, is a unique data mining solution that helps professionals drive productivity and profitability.
Why would a firm use CreativeWorx?
Professional services companies, such as legal firms and ad agencies, need to know if their projects are profitable. CFOs need better metrics and better data to track employees’ time for billing and profitability, and to understand productivity. While they have metrics at the client level — they know they have X consultants working with Y hours allocated — they don’t know the profitability of each of their projects for that client.
CreativeWorx TimeTracker extracts information while people work, without interrupting them. It analyzes that data and helps them improve their productivity. TimeTracker privately tracks activities in applications, calendars, browsers, GPS and desktop phone systems to do this.
By capturing that real-time awareness, TimeTracker provides analytics for management and the individuals themselves. They can be alerted if they are going over their time budget or if they are working on the wrong thing, by their own definitions.
Can you drill down a little?
A client calls in while you are working in Microsoft Word. Our software notices if you start working on another Microsoft Word document during that call. Our system learns how you associate the time you spend on that Word document to Client A and Project 123, while another document is associated with Client B for Project 456. While time is being captured, TimeTracker also knows how to properly allocate the time spent on the projects.
Do people become more productive, as they measure themselves?
Yes. There is a movement called the Quantified Self, and there are devices that capture, for example, your heartbeats per minute. CreativeWorx is launching the Quantified Enterprise. We go beyond identifying when people have large blocks of uninterrupted time, to observe if a consultant is more productive with a particular person or when working on a particular kind of project. We can also articulate benchmarks, such as the expected productivity within a given industry.
Can CreativeWorx help freelancers’ focus?
Absolutely. We provide a free Basic Plan for designers using Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Suite products. By measuring or tracking their own time, they can improve their productivity.
Describe your interaction with the WCNY.
The networking at WE-EARN has been tremendous! Recently, I met an investor who, I hope, will participate in the next round. Roughly, 50%, or 15, of our investors are Wharton grads. Several years ago, I put in a number of hours as a user, to help construct the platform for the Wharton Angel Network. I’m glad to hear it is reviving.
What is the most difficult part of ramping up a company?
Even if you are a master multitasker, there isn’t enough time in the day when you’re growing a new company. It’s
still prioritization, time management — with TimeTracker, I’m solving my own problem!
For all of my entrepreneurial efforts prior to CreativeWorx, I was not married. I had more time to focus on my business. In hindsight, I realize that I did not manage my time most effectively. Now that I have kids, it’s much more important to understand how my time is spent.