Greg Porter’s story began during high school in the 1980s. Now, decades later, he will be speaking at this year’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences convocation, at which both he and his son will graduate. Since his beginnings as an ambitious teenager, Porter has experienced adventure, success, hardship and risk.
As the student body president of Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California, Porter was aware of the inefficiencies and challenges facing education. When he and a classmate enrolled in a computer programming class, they created record-keeping software to help teachers and students keep track of grades. Upon hearing about the innovation, other schools paid the two teenagers about $300 to use it in their own programs.
“When I was a kid, I acquired confidence that told me I could pursue anything I wanted,” says Porter. “It wasn’t much, but I learned so much just by stepping out into the real world and starting something on my own.” In his heart, he knew he was meant to become a businessman and intended to find that future in higher education.
Upon coming to BYU, Porter changed his major three times before deciding on Psychology, saying, “If you are drawn to something, check it out. BYU offers the perfect testing ground to explore and learn what your interests and passions are. Don’t run yourself into the ground thinking some majors are better than others. Do what you love.”
Rather than graduating, Porter left school with one class left, deciding to make his fortune and become an entrepreneur. “That’s when I went out and started PowerSchool and started working with the software. I’m not a great programmer myself, but I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it so I just dove in and started working on it,” says Porter. “That required me to work without a salary for a year and a half to two years, and I just funded myself.”
Soon he found investors, and PowerSchool became widely popular among school administrators, teachers, students and parents. Gaining momentum across the country, the company was acquired by Apple, Inc. In making the transition, Porter met regularly with Steve Jobs to plan for the future. “I’m so grateful that we found a strategic partner… rather than just somebody that just helped us do what we’re already doing.”
After finding success as an entrepreneur, father, and business owner, Porter came back to BYU to enroll in one final class and earn his degree. On Friday, April 26th, he will not only be the Family, Home, and Social Sciences convocation speaker, but will also graduate alongside his son.