Max Yoder – Orr Fellow Class of 2010

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Host Company: Compendium Blogware
Current Company: Lesson.ly


“I wasn’t really going to give Lesson.ly a go if I knew there was a safety net.” This was the thought running through Max Yoder’s head as he moved his entire life savings into the then young company known as Lesson.ly. During his time in Orr Fellowship, Max was able to develop his skills and network which resulted in founding the software company, Lesson.ly.


Max grew up in a family that encouraged him to continuously push himself towards his full potential. This propelled him to his entrepreneurial career during his time at Indiana University via an internship with Studio Science (an Orr Fellowship host company) before graduating. “[Studio Science] was what showed me the mechanics of starting a business and the process behind it, because before it looked like magic to me. I learned it was in my reach if I wanted it to be.”


After Max discovered his entrepreneurial passion through his internship, he was looking to develop this further as an Orr Fellow. The Fellowship offered him exactly what he wanted: two years to learn the ins and outs of creating a successful startup. During his time in Orr Fellowship, Max worked at Compendium and was introduced to influential people across the Indianapolis area. One such person was Chris Baggott. Chris co-founded ExactTarget, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2013 for two billion dollars. “He told me ‘you can do anything you want, man.’ He really encouraged me.”


During his two years in the Fellowship, Max also met business partner and best friend Conner Burt. Conner Burt is the COO of Lesson.ly and an Orr Fellowship alumnus. Conner and Max bring out the best in one another and are the driving force behind Lesson.ly’s success. “It makes me want to be as good on the product side as I can be because he’s over there on the sales side not letting up. And if he’s not letting up, then I’m letting him down if I let up. I just never wanna let that guy down.”


If you walk into Lesson.ly’s office today, you won’t be able to find a department without an Orr Fellow in it (Max could have his own TLC show called 19 Orr Fellows and Counting). At Lesson.ly, Max fosters a similar culture to Orr Fellowship where people are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones so they can continue to grow professionally and personally.


“The whole idea of a comfort zone is a place where you’re not being challenged. You don’t grow. The only way you grow in life is through challenges, and going through the unsure nature of ‘can I do this or not?’ People need permission to play at the edge of their competencies where they’re going to make mistakes. They need permission to know that it’s okay.” Orr Fellowship gave Max that permission, and with that permission came success that he plans to continue.

*Photo Credit: Maximililan Tortoriello

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