The 10 years of work Russ Peterson and Kevin Karschnik have put into iSpeak, a business educational training company, paid off as they won the Best of Round Rock Award in 2009 and 2010 from the U.S. Commerce Association. Peterson and Karschnik won the Best of Round Rock Award in Professional Development Training category. The business pair also won the Best Sales Trainer honor at the American Business Awards in 2009. Peterson and Karschnik created iSpeak in 1999 but moved into their current offices off Joe DiMaggio Boulevard in October 2009.
Peterson and Karschnik work mainly with Fortune 500 and 1,000 companies such as AT&T, Fox Television and Budweiser but they also work with local businesses such as Children at Heart Ministries, Round Rock Express, Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and Wag-a-Bag. "We work with customers who invest in their companies on a regular basis," Peterson said.
Peterson and Karschnik have developed and written course curriculum for classes on management and presentation skills. The company's main four course topics are Presenting4Success, Selling4Success, Managing4Success and Servicing4Success. Peterson and Karschnik incorporate the "4" theme in other aspects such as the applications of "inform," "inspire" and "implement" leading to "improvement."
Peterson and Karschnik are natives of Round Rock and have been close friends since they were both 10 years old. They are both Round Rock High School graduates. Peterson graduated with a degree in marketing from Texas A&M University while Karschnik graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of North Texas. Together they created their first computer-training company, FutureTech Training, in 1991.
Peterson and Karschnik created iSpeak in 1999 due to a mutual desire to share what they learned from owning and operating FutureTech Training, Karschnik said. "Originally, we wanted to write a book about how we really learned to communicate and to provide a service to our customers in the computer training world," Karschnik said. "We thought it would be better if we provided the service and put the applications that are mentioned in the book into practice instead."
When businesses choose to have their employees participate in iSpeak professional development, participants receive a workbook, assessments, a DVD, a binder and a shortcut flashcard. They also sell business participants an iSpeak Training in a Box (iTIB) kit which includes a booklet, flash card, an introduction video and a PowerPoint document of what participants learned during their professional development. "The Training in a Box is reinforcement of what participants have learned during their two-day professional development training sessions," Peterson said.
Some of the most memorable moments Karschnik and Peterson have experienced through the creation of iSpeak, Inc. include Karschnik working with the then-president of Fox Television on how to present an effective speech to media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
iSpeak is coming off its best-ever month from a revenue perspective, earning $1 million in revenue last year. Karschnik said the goal is to have controlled growth at iSpeak, not rapid growth. "It's not about being the biggest but it's about being the best," Russ Peterson said. Both Russ Peterson and Kevin Karschnik have achieved the level of iSpeak Certified Master Instructor (iCMI), while the company has a handful of instructors who have achieved the level of iSpeak Certified Professional Instructor (iCMI).
Along with helping those in the business field, Peterson and Karschnik believe in being a part of the community. Their mission statement is simple - make a difference. For each class they teach they make a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation and the money is then used to plant at least one tree in the Central Texas area. They also play an active role in community by providing financial and volunteer support to The Ronald McDonald House, Children at Heart Foundation, Newspapers in Education, and Habitat for Humanity.
In the future, Peterson and Karschnik want to release a book about presentation skills in the business world. For more information on iSpeak, visit iSpeak.com.