Case Study: This Online Course Creator Created a $20+ Million Income Business and has 20+ Employees
This case study is about an online educator, Shaan Patel, whose company, Prep Expert has done over $20 Million in revenue and and employs more than 20 employees.
Shaan founded his company in 2011 when he was 21 years old. A landmark event in the company's history came in January 2016 (The company, Prep Expert was known as 2400 Expert at that time). Company's founder, Shaan Patel appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank Season 7. Shaan pitched his idea to the sharks and reached an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban.
Shaan's vision to do revenues of $20 Million was realized in just 3.5 years (up from $0.6 Million in Shark Tank appearance). Shaan's deal with Mark Cuban made the company worth $1 Million but smart investors like Mark Cuban do not invest in companies based on their past performance. Instead they focus on the future vision of the company or person.
Do you know what Shaan's vision was, which got Mark to invest in him and his company? He was taking his company from doing just the in-person classes to online classes. Shaan understood the limitations of in-person classes and had started the journey of online education, thereby removing those limitations, which could have slowed company's growth. The company now conducts both in-person and online classes.
Shaan's parents moved to the US from India at a young age and like any immigrant, they worked hard and saved enough money to eventually own and operate a budget motel called Sky Ranch Motel. Shaan grew up in this motel and attended local urban public schools in Nevada.
He did not have ideal environment for studies because the inner-city public schools in Nevada are rated the worst school district in the nation with a 40% dropout rate. Since the budget motel was his home, the conditions were not ideal either. “At a young age I saw, like, drug deals and prostitutes,” Patel told Business Insider.
Despite the odds, Shaan's academic accomplishments continued to grow. He was the valedictorian of his class, and shook President George W. Bush’s hand in 2007 as a White House Presidential Scholar. He also scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT in high school.
Shaan's accomplishments might give a feeling that he was born smart. But the truth is, he observed, took smart steps and became smart! He scored just above the national average in his first SAT attempt and it wasn’t until he started teaching himself how to master the SAT test that he was able to get a perfect score on the third try.
Patel then decided to form Prep Expert (2400 Expert then) in 2011 with just $900. Instead of teaching students content, the course teaches them strategies on how to master the test. He advertised it as the only SAT prep course taught by a student who got a perfect score in high school.
Since airing on Shark Tank, Prep Expert has made $20 million in course and book sales. The company also employs 20 instructors and has taught more than 50,000 students. Many graduates of his course have been accepted into Ivy League schools such as Yale, Princeton and Harvard. One student was even offered $1.4 million in scholarship offers, he told Las Vegas Sun.
Just like readers of this blog are aspiring for their online course to -- Prep Expert has helped tens of thousands of students improve their SAT and ACT scores through online classes. Patel also co-authored a book, How Any Kid Can Start a Business, with Mark Cuban and Ian McCue to inspire youth entrepreneurship.
And he is not done yet. Shaan Patel has launched a new digital marketing course company, ClearHat, that he co-founded with fellow entrepreneur and internet marketer Adam Lawrence. Read his interview with Forbes here.
Shaan did a lot of things to take his company to where it is now, but in my opinion, he did a few things in particular, which helped him immensely in the success he enjoys today.
- Pressing on - Shaan did not have an education friendly environment when growing up. He eventually got a perfect 2400 score, and yet, every Ivy League school that he applied to rejected him: Harvard, Princeton, Stanford to name a few. Rather than getting discouraged by rejections, Patel used them as motivation and parlayed his perfect SAT-score into a thriving SAT test-prep company.
- Finding his niche - There are hundreds of companies in the field of improving SAT and ACT scores. Instead of teaching students content, he teaches them strategies on how to master the test.
- Pivot - Patel quickly realized that in-person classes have limitations and if he needs to reach a wider audience, he needs to pivot his program to add online classes as well. When Shark Tank episode aired, he was in a perfect place because not only was he offering in-person classes, but also had online classes for those who were living in different or remote cities.
Click here to check out Prep Expert.