Going the Whole 9 Yards
A conversation during the Class of 1989’s 20th Reunion planted the seed for 9yahds Inc.
When Pam Hannah Simpson ’89 convinced her classmate, Paul McIsaac ’89, to put his beard up for auction senior year, she had no idea that these antics would be a joke among business partners decades later.
Simpson and McIsaac reconnected at their 20th Reunion and exchanged contact information. “He was interested in reaching out to some IT folks at my company ... normal Babo networking,” Simpson recalls. “We had a great time at reunion,” says McIsaac, “but really spent a lot of time catching up at breakfast Sunday morning. I remember being so (pleasantly!) surprised when she sent a great follow-up email the next day.”
The two stayed in touch and during the following year, came to realize that each possessed complementary skills. They decided to leave behind the frustrations of their respective jobs and join forces, co-founding 9yahds Inc., a cloud-based software application. “Every time someone leaves a company, there is a knowledge drain,” says Simpson. “We believe you should document the whole 9 yards—every critical step in every process to ensure your company continues to run despite the unexpected.”
Simpson considers creating 9yahds her biggest career success, saying, “Walking away from a paycheck to start something from scratch was not nearly as painful as remaining in a job I hated, despite the pay.” And, for McIsaac, their shared Babson foundation has fostered a unique level of trust. “It gives us a shorthand that other teams don’t have, which creates a lot of velocity for us when things need to get done.”
According to the 9yahds co-founders, great people always have been central to staying connected to Babson. “I wouldn’t trade a single moment of my time at Babson for any other experience,” says McIsaac. “It was filled with great people, lots of Frisbee golf, and more than a few parties in the Foc’s’le.” He learned valuable business lessons, too, and says he appreciates being able to walk into any business and quickly figure out most of the moving parts.
Both Simpson and McIsaac have been active on Reunion committees and in student coaching, and even entered the Butler Venture Accelerator which gives them access to space and resources on campus. As a graduate, Simpson has tapped into the alumni network numerous times. “The network has been extremely supportive,” she says, noting that there’s a shared appreciation for what it means to earn a Babson degree. 9yahds has benefited from lots of great feedback from the alumni community, and Babson alums are driving the next round of investment in the company.
The two clearly enjoy their work, bringing a sense of passion and purpose to 9yahds. “There’s a lot of drudgery that comes with starting a company,” says McIsaac, so his advice is to be completely passionate and dedicated to your mission. “Find a problem that people need to solve, and then talk to anybody and everybody you know.”
“Surround yourself with honest advisors who will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear,” adds Simpson. And, one last piece of advice we’re sure they’d agree with? Don’t skip your Babson Reunion!