Side Hustle City

From Side Hustle to Shark Tank, Shaan Patel's Journey to Building a Test Prep Empire

May 16, 2024 Adam Koehler & Shaan Patel Season 5 Episode 34
From Side Hustle to Shark Tank, Shaan Patel's Journey to Building a Test Prep Empire
Side Hustle City
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Side Hustle City
From Side Hustle to Shark Tank, Shaan Patel's Journey to Building a Test Prep Empire
May 16, 2024 Season 5 Episode 34
Adam Koehler & Shaan Patel

Send us a Text Message.

Join us on an inspiring journey with Dr. Shaan Patel, MD, MBA, founder and CEO of Prep Expert, as seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” A board-certified dermatologist named one of Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” Dr. Patel is not only a renowned dermatologist but also an education visionary. From raising his own SAT score from average to perfect, authoring 10+ test prep books, to helping over 100,000 students improve their SAT and ACT scores, his story is a beacon of entrepreneurial spirit and educational innovation.

In this episode, Dr. Patel shares his transformative journey from humble beginnings to creating a multi-million dollar business, Prep Expert. He delves into how he turned his struggles with standardized testing into a thriving test preparation empire, securing a partnership with Mark Cuban and inspiring countless students. His unique perspective on balancing innate ability with acquired skills uncovers what fuels success in the competitive world of startups.

We also explore the deeper essence of entrepreneurship, from the impact of social media on young entrepreneurs to the importance of resilience for those from less advantaged backgrounds. Dr. Patel discusses the contentious role of standardized testing and how education has not just changed his life but has also empowered employees and students to chase their dreams, securing over $100 million in scholarships.

Join us for a session that’s as much about making a living as it is about making a difference, and be inspired by Dr. Patel’s commitment to transforming education and providing life-changing opportunities to many. Get ready to be moved and motivated by a story of resilience, innovation, and the power of education as the ultimate catalyst for change.

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

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FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Join us on an inspiring journey with Dr. Shaan Patel, MD, MBA, founder and CEO of Prep Expert, as seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” A board-certified dermatologist named one of Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” Dr. Patel is not only a renowned dermatologist but also an education visionary. From raising his own SAT score from average to perfect, authoring 10+ test prep books, to helping over 100,000 students improve their SAT and ACT scores, his story is a beacon of entrepreneurial spirit and educational innovation.

In this episode, Dr. Patel shares his transformative journey from humble beginnings to creating a multi-million dollar business, Prep Expert. He delves into how he turned his struggles with standardized testing into a thriving test preparation empire, securing a partnership with Mark Cuban and inspiring countless students. His unique perspective on balancing innate ability with acquired skills uncovers what fuels success in the competitive world of startups.

We also explore the deeper essence of entrepreneurship, from the impact of social media on young entrepreneurs to the importance of resilience for those from less advantaged backgrounds. Dr. Patel discusses the contentious role of standardized testing and how education has not just changed his life but has also empowered employees and students to chase their dreams, securing over $100 million in scholarships.

Join us for a session that’s as much about making a living as it is about making a difference, and be inspired by Dr. Patel’s commitment to transforming education and providing life-changing opportunities to many. Get ready to be moved and motivated by a story of resilience, innovation, and the power of education as the ultimate catalyst for change.

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

FranchiseU!
FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevie, my co-host. Let's get started, all right? Welcome back everybody to the Side Hustle City podcast. Today, our special guest is Sean Patel, and I'm reading through your bio, sean, and the forward is by Mark Cuban here.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he's my investor, business partner and mentor. It's been great working with Mark Cuban, and he wrote the forward for my new book, which I'm excited to talk about today too. I love it.

Speaker 1:

I love it. Well, and you were. Were you a winner on Shark Tank?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so made a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. For my business it's called Prep Expert. It's a test preparation company, so we do online SAT courses, act courses, college admissions consulting so if there's any parents with high school students out there, you can check us out at prep expertcom. But yeah, so we made a went on Shark Tank in 2016, closed an investment deal with Mark Cuban for $250,000 for 20% equity and the deal went through after the show and it's opened up a lot of opportunities both being on Shark Tank and working with Mark Cuban over the years. And what's interesting is the business originally started off as a side hustle, went all the way through Shark Tank and now has generated over $50 million in revenue. So excited to talk about all that today.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Not a great deal, Like knowing what I know about startups and going through the whole process myself to exit. That was a great deal for Mark.

Speaker 2:

Oh, amazing. Yeah, he's made many times his money back. But you know people were like well, you know why did you give up 20% equity in your business? And my thought process on it is 80% of a business with Mark Cuban is more valuable than 100% of a business by myself, and that has been totally true. Over the years We've opened up so many business partnerships, licensing deals. He has helped us do marketing and get it out to thousands and you know we've helped over 100,000 people at this point. So you know it's been really, really an incredible partnership.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, of course I mean you know just the swag of you know being able to say hey look, mark Cuban's one of my investors. I mean that just that raises people's ears and they're oh well, mark, invested. Why wouldn't I invest? Like raises people's ears and they're oh well, mark, Mark invested. Why wouldn't I invest, like Mark knows what he's doing better than I do, you know? So it just brings a certain level of credibility to your company. So, uh, you know it was.

Speaker 1:

You know, just going through your bio here and, and you know, understanding what I know about your, your background, it sounds like you you didn't come from the greatest of uh, of backgrounds. We were, you know, before the show, sitting here chatting about you know Las Vegas public schools versus Cincinnati public schools and how they're both pretty terrible. Tell us your experience in school. I know that a lot of our listeners are not. You know, don't come from affluent backgrounds. They're probably working nine to five jobs they'd love to get out of and you know they'd be thrilled to start a $50 million company. And one of my favorite things is you know what guys a lot of the people that do this don't come from wealthy families. They don't come from awesome backgrounds. They didn't go to the greatest schools growing up. Talk a little bit about that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah for sure. So a little bit of background on myself. I grew up in my parents' budget motel in Las Vegas, nevada, so I went to urban public schools that I was zoned for and, uh, you know we were talking. Vegas is not exactly known for it's excellent education system. So when I was in school there we had a 37% high school dropout rate. Um, so it was close to 40% of all the kids wouldn't graduate. Um, now I think it's down to like 23%, so it's improving a little bit.

Speaker 2:

But you know, I have a lot of gratitude for my parents who took education very seriously, and so that made me take education very seriously. So I got straight A's. I was a good student but you know, probably like many of the people listening to the podcast, or maybe your kids, I was not a very good standardized test taker, so I only scored average on my first SAT. I had a lot of test anxiety. My parents didn't go to college in the United States and so, um, you know that's when I basically spent hundreds of hours in the library self-studying for the test, eventually was able to raise my score 640 points to get a perfect SAT score. Um, yeah, so you know something. Yeah, totally life-changing because it opened up the doors to some top universities, got a half a million dollars in college scholarships, so I didn't have to pay a dime for college tuition, housing, books, food, anything. So it was pretty awesome.

Speaker 2:

And that's actually the origin story of my business, because when I got to college, I wanted to help other students improve their test scores to improve their own lives, and I thought I had developed a lot of strategies, techniques and ways to ace this exam that I hadn't seen in other books, and so I wanted to just write a book at first. However, what ended up happening is you know, this was 12, 13 years ago and self-publishing wasn't huge yet. So I was trying to get a major publisher. So I pitched a hundred literary agents and publishers. Every single one rejected the book proposal.

Speaker 2:

They said you know, it's too competitive of a market, you don't have a platform to write such a book, et cetera, et cetera, and so I could have thrown in the towel and, you know, gave up, but instead I started my side hustle, which was started teaching SAT courses, and in the very first course that I ever taught, my students had an average score improvement of 376 points. That's equivalent of taking a student from the 50th percentile, putting them in the 90th percentile literally in six weeks, and so it was pretty incredible. And you know, of course I had parents and students who wanted more courses. I began training other instructors to teach my curriculum, and the rest is history. Over the past 12 years, we've helped over 100,000 students at PrepExpert improve their SAT and ACT scores, get into top universities but, most importantly, win over $100 million in college scholarships to lower their costs or even eliminate their cost of college.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that is amazing. Yeah, not everybody can be you and just get a perfect test score and then go off to USC. And uh and Yale, was this your parents idea? By the way, you are also a doctor. And uh, was this your parents idea to get, for you to be a doctor, or did you come across this yourself, cause now you're an entrepreneur?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. So you know, um, originally, definitely, I think I was encouraged by my parents um to become a doctor, as many people probably are doctors, lawyers, you know the traditional careers. But my dad was always an entrepreneur himself. As I mentioned, he owned a motel, he's a pharmacist, he owned a gas station, and so I kind of grew up around that entrepreneurial spirit of you know. He kind of had a side hustle himself. His gas station and motel were kind of the side hustle for him, for his farms.

Speaker 2:

Uh, daytime, day job was being a pharmacist and so, um, I grew up around that and so for me, I think it was almost in my blood to be an entrepreneur and, uh, I stumbled on, stumbled onto it, really had a rejection, as I mentioned. Um, you know, I got I would if I had just gotten the I mentioned. Um, yeah, I got I would if I just got in the book deal. At first I probably would have just been like, uh, you know I'm not going to start any courses. Um, what ended up was funny story is mcgraw hill, the world's largest education publisher, who originally rejected my book proposal after they saw what I was building with the courses at prep expert and saw my success, they ended up coming back and saying we'll give you a book deal after all. So we ended up publishing the book.

Speaker 2:

My first SAT prep book sold over 50,000 copies, went number one on Amazon for SAT prep and I just came out with a new one, as you mentioned, called PrepExpert Digital SAT Playbook. That one's self-published and it's already hit number one for SAT prep and the new release category. We're hoping, as the word gets out, we'll hit number one across all categories for SAT on Amazon and that's the one that Mark Cuban wrote the foreword for. But I'm excited to have self-published it. You keep a lot more of the royalties when you're self-published yeah, when you're self-publishing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, when you do it yourself. Well, you've also built up a persona for yourself, and I talk about this on the show a lot and how important a personal brand is and building up that personal brand. How much did being on Shark Tank elevate that personal brand for you and were you able to leverage it afterwards?

Speaker 2:

Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah, I love that you give that advice to entrepreneurs because it's really, really important. I think that personal brands are going to be more important over the next 10 years than ever before, and the reason for that is because you know there's increasing competition in all industries because there's AI coming there's, you know, so much easier, it's so much lower cost to start businesses, so you're going to have a lot more competition. So the only way to stand out from competition is to differentiate yourself, and what better differentiator is? Somewhat like yourself. You know you are a differentiator as a personal brand and so for me, appearing on Shark Tank was a huge help. We're the only test prep company to have ever appeared on Shark Tank, obviously the only one that has investment from Mark Cuban. So those are huge, huge personal brand differentiators for us. On top of that, I continue to make content from a personal brand perspective to show my authority and expertise in the space, which really helps differentiate us in a hyper-competitive industry of test preparation. So personal branding a hundred percent.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think you're also in an industry that people, uh, can relate to. Everybody's, you know gone through school. Everybody, you know, feared the SAT and the ACT growing up. Is there anything that you can see your company doing going down the future outside of SAT and ACT, that could help these parents of these kids better engage with these young people, get them more interested in school? Do you ever see yourself kind of going down that path?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that's the natural transition for me because, like you mentioned, with my personal brand, one of the things that I really push is not just being good with test preparation, but being good at productivity, time management, delayed gratification, all these skills around success, and I actually put it into my SAT book and people are like oh, I learned a lot more than just SAT.

Speaker 2:

I learned how to study and how to be productive and all these things, and so I think that's the natural. Next progression is to branch out and help students take not only academics more seriously but life more seriously, Because, because I love to help kids become entrepreneurs and, you know, all these skills translate over. To be an entrepreneur You've got to have self-control, you've got to delay gratification, you got to work hard, Um, you know, and so I love teaching those skills and uh and teaching young people. So I think that you're you hundred percent hit it on the right spot. That you know, and especially for those people that are starting side hustles, you got to have all those key skills as well. I know I certainly had them when I was starting the business while in school.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, and and some of that stuff. I think there's something in us, like you had mentioned being a natural entrepreneur, just feeling like you. You had it and and, but being able to have that. Your dad is an example and not wanting to disappoint him either, you know I but I think there's something natural in people Like, even if you didn't have that, I feel like you, sean, would have still been a successful person. How much do you put into things like personality types when it comes to success? Uh, being in the education space and everything.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, super important. You know everyone learns differently, everyone works differently. What I will say is things that are not natural can be learned, though. You know, I think some people are gifted with it for sure. But you know, a lot of times, in order to have success in life, whether it's with a test like the SAT or it's a business as a side hustle, you just have to do the hard work. And you know that's not no one likes to hear that. Everyone would rather scroll TikTok or watch YouTube, and, you know, do the things that are easy.

Speaker 2:

But, um, you know, crafting those skills early on are super important. So for me, you know, sitting in the library studying for the SAT, I learned a lot of self-control. I learned a lot about hard work, and that translated over to my business. Now I can, you know, first hour of the day I'm working on the hardest task in my business, trying to be as productive as possible, just like I was when the first hour of the day for SAT studying when I was in high school, and so you got to learn it some way. I'm not saying, you know, test prep is the only way A lot of people learn in the school of hard knocks, right, like, just, you know, working in in either a career or on your business, et cetera, business, et cetera. But the earlier you learn those skills, you know the success compounds over time, right, and so the earlier you learn those skills, the more likely you will be successful, um, at an earlier age, because it's just going to take time at the end of the day. Yeah that's.

Speaker 1:

That is a really good point. And you know, when you come from not a lot, come from not a lot, I think you don't really have room to fail, right, like a failure sets you back a lot more because you have less people around you that can help you, I think. And one big problem I see nowadays, though, with the kids is this almost like resentful attitude towards success, and I think it's because they don't feel like they can attain that. Or possibly there's so much pressure on social media and you see, these guys, these fake influencers and people that are like 20 that said, oh, I built a $8 million ad agency in six months using my techniques and they're selling a course. Right, if they really did that, they wouldn't be selling courses, they'd be building their agency, right, but people don't get that right and they see all the success and they feel like they have to compete with that and there's no way I can.

Speaker 1:

I can do that, but success starts one step at a time. Right, like you said, it compounds, like if you're gonna, you're gonna climb mount everest. You got to put one front foot in front of the other, right? Do you see, in your over a decade of doing this. Have you seen a change in the students and have you been able to evolve your curriculum with that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. I have seen a change in the students and a lot of it. It's not something I'm a huge fan about, like what you said, which is, you know, there's a lot of comparison making and it's not their fault. I mean, we're taken over by social media. There's a lot less of, there's a lot shorter attention spans, so we've had to make our curriculum, you know, quicker, faster to digest, et cetera. You know, definitely had to make adjustments. But I want to go back to the point that you stated, which is, you know, these social media gurus.

Speaker 2:

It really kind of burns my soul to see some of these people that are actually successful, whether it's multimillionaires, billionaires, like my business partner, mark Cuban. It literally is the execution and the action you take day in and day out. You cannot control the outcomes, but you can control your actions and your efforts and if you take that one step at a time, you will see success. I was talking to a young entrepreneur who had a test prep company and they're like you know, I'm doing a couple hundred thousand in sales this year and last year I was doing a hundred thousand. But why isn't it going faster? And I said you're growing your business, you're doubling your business year over year, you know like that's great, but people want to go even faster and faster, because it's what they're seeing in comparisons. And so you know you really have to be grateful for the progress that you make. And you know, take those actions one step at a time, like you said.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, I think self-awareness is a big thing. I mean you mentioned delayed gratification. I tell the kids, when I go talk to these kids at high schools and stuff, I say you know, I usually talk to kids in underprivileged schools and I say being poor is an advantage. Like I don't think you understand that because you don't have stuff. Right, you see all these other people with stuff and you don't have stuff. You're used to not having stuff. You're used to being broke.

Speaker 1:

Like going back to that doesn't scare you as much as it does someone who grew up in a much better environment or better situation than you. You're more resilient, is what? And that self-reflection. These are things that I've looked back at since I've kind of moved up, you know, over time and I look back and I'm like actually, you know, being poor was a benefit because I'm running this fast and these people are just starting here and I'm going past them when they're just starting out in life, because I learned a bunch of stuff from the school of hard knocks. And did you, do you feel that? Do you, did you experience? Some of that Is there? Is there something in you where it's like I'm not afraid of, of failure?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that that's a really important point. I definitely have seen that in my own life where a lot of times, when my back is against the wall, I'll come up with some of the best solutions and work the hardest and get the best results. But when your back's not against the wall and you're living this kind of cushy life and you know that's when things go wrong or you don't try as hard, you don't put in as much effort and you can fall behind. And so I think it's really, really important what you said about failure and resilience.

Speaker 2:

I you know I've already mentioned the hundred rejections I got with the book proposal, but I failed and failed and failed so many times. But the few times I succeeded is what everyone sees and what everyone talks about, and so it's really important that you learn how to become okay with failure and that you become really good with resilience. I'd say the best entrepreneurs are the most resilient ones, because you're going to fail, things are not going to work like you plan, things are not going to go as fast as you plan, but as long as you are okay with that and you're okay with some failures, some setbacks, and you know how to have resilience around that, you will succeed over time, yeah, and I think once you're successful, what hurts the worst are the people that barely knew, actually, the people that knew you, who think that you got lucky.

Speaker 1:

They didn't see the hundred rejections that you had, and it's they love you when you, when you're struggling to be successful. But then, once you are successful, it's almost like there's some resentful thing going on and it hurts, and it's like not only do you have to be able to control all your emotions and fight through things and work hard while you're being an entrepreneur and building up your company. Now you've got this whole new thing you have to deal with, that's other people, and I'm sure you dealt with some of that.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I mean, I think that's one of the real challenges is when you are building up from nothing to something and you know, becoming successful, those closest to you will not always have the best interest at hand and, um, it's a sad part of life, but I think it's a very true part of life in that people compare themselves against. You know the people they know, like they're. Usually you don't care if, like a celebrity or someone like that, becomes successful because you don't know them, but if you know them and they're close to you, you start really comparing yourself, and we do this ourselves. Other people do this, and it can make other people feel bad as you, as you are becoming more successful.

Speaker 2:

Now, should it be that way? Absolutely not. But you know, when people try to tear you down, it's it's really, really hurtful. But again, I think that goes back to you have to be resilient, not only in in business, but also in your personal relationships. Um, there's a lot of people that I would have considered friends 10 years ago, that I don't even talk to anymore, right, and so I have to be able to cut those negative relationships out of your life and I think you know, overall, I'm better for it and I think overall most people would be yeah, but that's really hard.

Speaker 1:

That's something that I don't think people are prepared for when they when they get to the level that you've gotten to and obviously Mark Cuban, I mean, can you imagine the number of people that email him on a regular basis or reach out to him or, you know, contact him or cause you didn't loan me some money, now you're the worst person on earth? That's how lottery winners end up losing their money. I think when you don't earn it the way you earned it or the way Mark earned it, it's uh, it goes fast, it is fast as it comes in, it's going to go out, and I think that's kind of why, uh, it is the way it is. I think that's why success is hard, because it prepares you. That whole path that you take to success prepares you for the stuff you're going to deal with as a successful person.

Speaker 2:

It's not all sunshine and roses is way more fun than the actual success itself, in my opinion. Like I love the challenges, I love the setbacks, because it just gives me the opportunity to fight them, work through solutions, but, more importantly, tell a great story later, right, like I told the story about the 100 rejections. It would have kind of been boring if I just said, oh yeah, I got the book deal right away right. It would have kind of been boring if I just said, oh yeah, I got the book deal right away, right. And so you know, I think, create your story, use those setbacks, failures, remember them and tell a great story later, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And the idea that you're what I love about your story. You turned a problem that you had. I mean, most people would have sat in that library. First of all, they wouldn't have studied that many hours. I'm sure they wouldn't have shot for a perfect SAT score. They'd have been like, hey, I just want to pass the SAT, I'm trying to get into the local college, I'm fine, I'll take whatever, uh. But you sat there and you worked through that Uh, and you freaking turn that into a business. Like most people don't see opportunities in the problems that they have. But that's where the innovation is, it's you're sitting here. You've deal with the same problem over and over again. Why doesn't the light bulb go off in certain people's heads? And it went off in your head. Do you remember that moment that you were like, wait a minute, everybody probably deals with this problem.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, you know, I think for me it was definitely after I started getting all those scholarship offers, you know, like a full ride at USC, a full ride at you know two, three other universities. I was like whoa, you know, this one test totally is changing my life. I'm sure that I could help other students change their lives. And you know, I just wanted to write a book at first but of course it turned into a whole thing and I pivoted, and that's how entrepreneurship goes. But, to your point, I think that the best businesses and startups often get created from founders who have experienced the problem themselves right.

Speaker 2:

So, for me, I started my business. I had this SAT prep problem, didn't have great solutions, so I created a business to start up. But if you look at Uber, for example, I think Uber was started by the two guys not being able to handle a cab in Paris or France or somewhere, and so they were like we're just going to make it so that all cars can be cabs, and so, you know, there's a million stories like this, but I think that that's a great inspiration for anyone who's thinking about starting a side hustle. What problems have you experienced? What solutions do you think would be good, Because if they come out of your personal experience, oftentimes you're just going to be way more passionate about it.

Speaker 1:

You're going to be way more knowledgeable about it and you'll start a better business for it. Yeah, and I think you know our, our whole saying on this is turn your side hustle into your main hustle, which is something that you did, and now you're in a position to help so many people. That's gotta be just extremely gratifying for you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah yeah. Our motto is, um, you know, change your score, change your life, and you know, at this point, we've helped tens of thousands of students change their, or over a hundred thousand actually change their scores and change their lives, and what I love about business in general, though, is you get to do good and do well. What do I mean by that? Like business, you get to do good in terms of like you do well for yourself, your employees, you make money, you get a salary, you help their families, et cetera, but you also do well for society, because usually, a business or a service is going to be helping in some way. Right, that's the whole reason it exists is to provide a product or service that helps people, so there's nothing better, in my opinion, than entrepreneurship, because you get to do good and do well.

Speaker 1:

I mean, think about how you've multiplied success. Right, we look at our startup. You know we've had five or six people that worked for us early on. That, you know, went on to create their own startups. They had some. You know we've had five or six people that worked for us early on. That, you know, went on to create their own startups. They had some equity in our business. They took that money. They started their own startup in sales, software or whatever.

Speaker 1:

I mean there's been five or six other exits from people that were working for us that might just have gone on to work at regular companies.

Speaker 1:

So you look at that and you're like man, like three guys in a Panera Bread up at University of Cincinnati's campus eventually built something that led to other exits and investment money coming in from the coast and all this other stuff. Like your efforts that you're doing aren't just going to like bless your life. They're going to affect the lives of all these people and the difference between somebody going in and getting a regular old test score and just going to their local college to getting into a Yale or getting into one of these other schools that completely changes their life. So what you've built obviously changed your life, changed your family's life, made your family proud of you. But think of all the other proud mothers out there now that are going to see their sons. They never thought like, wow, he went to a crappy school, but he took this SAT thing and it completely changed his life. It's going to change their family's life. I mean, the multiplying effect of what you did is insane.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's incredible. I love to see how our students are doing years down the line Now. We have students who are doctors, lawyers. We have students working at NVIDIA. We have students who went to Penn, harvard, stanford, all the top schools. We have students who got. I had one student who got $1.4 million in scholarship offers. We had other students get half a million, quarter million. I mean, that's the life. We all know how expensive college is now right. So, yeah, I mean, it's just, it's crazy. 1.7 trillion in student debt. Um, so that's really. My mission now is to either more so than get students in top colleges, help them reduce or eliminate their college costs through merit-based scholarships, and we're really successful at that. So so, yeah, it's my passion.

Speaker 1:

I would almost imagine like uh, so if I'm a college and I want to, you know I'm, I'm Alabama, I'm going to recruit from IMG Academy or I'm going to recruit from some of the sports focused high schools around the country. I could almost imagine that if somebody takes an SAT or the ACT or whatever takes your course, I can almost see your course almost being one of those early credentials for that young person on their resume. Yes, I got a perfect score on my SAT, but also it's because I went to this and I took this course and it's almost like a credential. It's like a Microsoft certified credential when you're in high school.

Speaker 2:

Do you?

Speaker 1:

see yourself as that in a way.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean we've helped a lot of athletes actually achieve their athletic scholarships as well, which has been really cool, you know, because a lot of times they need a minimum SAT or ACT score to qualify for their athletic scholarship, whether that's in football or basketball or tennis or whatever it may be. But the credentialing idea is a really interesting one and I think it's something I'll have to think a little bit more about because I think that, going back to what we were talking about before, about these, you know more important skills. You know test prep. People think I'm a huge advocate of tests. I not a huge advocate, I just think it's a necessary evil.

Speaker 2:

On standardized tests, like you got to have a test, um, we went to test optional for a bunch of years actually, many people probably know and what ended up happening was it actually disadvantaged, low income and underprivileged students more, which was totally the opposite of what everyone would have thought. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense because if you get rid of test scores, you're going to value extracurricular activities more. And who can afford the best summer programs? Who can afford to start nonprofits? Who can afford, you know, sports like water polo and golf, it's going to be the wealthiest of the families and so, um, you know, standardized testing, I get it. You know, some people can afford the best tutors, like myself, um, but you can also go to the library and study, like I did, you know, and you self study and do well on your own. So it does, you know, it's not perfect by any means, but I think it's, um, you know, necessary unfortunately.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. It is one of those necessary evils in life. Nobody likes to do it. Some people are just come naturally to. They roll out of bed, they go to school, they take a test, never study, and somehow they get good grades.

Speaker 1:

I don't get it but, but but you probably know, but I think you know the best thing about what you're doing too, doing too, is it takes a specific type of person, it takes a specific skill set to be good at taking tests, and I don't know if it's like critical thinking ability or there's a process. I'm sure that you tell people to go through, and they just told me. When I took the ACT, they said if you don't finish it in time, just put C for everything. That was my strategy.

Speaker 2:

I remember that used to be a strategy.

Speaker 1:

You're right. One out every four times. I mean it's a 25% chance. But but yeah, what is your? How does this help them outside of the SAT? I mean you're going into college with a new set of skills by studying this. That can only benefit you in college as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, the number of skills you need to do well on tests is significant and that's why I think most students are not naturally good standardized test takers. I think some people are sure, but you need study skills first. You need to be to be able to sit down, focus for long periods of time, study content, study practice questions, understand why you got them right and wrong. You need to be able to apply new strategies that you learn new content. You need to, you know, be able to, I would say, lower your test anxiety is a huge one, right? Um, just, uh, you know, get really good with test anxiety and uh testing, test stress, etc. So we help with all of that, but it's like it's not just one thing, it's like we have a hundred things we teach and that's what gets you the ultimate result.

Speaker 2:

Um, but that carries over, like you said, to your high school classes, to your college classes, even to your work in your career as an entrepreneur. And that's what I love about it is because the students always who finish my course are like I didn't just learn about the SAT, I learned about it. I'm doing better in my high school classes, I did better in college, you know, I learned how to study, I learned how to be more productive, I learned better time management, and so all of those skills it's like. What's sad is that and you know we were talking about school districts before is schools don't really teach it. And, um, you know, they just expect students to study. It's like, well, how do you study, how do you have time management, you know, and it's like, oh, figure it out on your own. And that's not what we're about. A prep expert.

Speaker 1:

So I got a friend. He just moved from Canada and his son is doing pretty well uh, here in the States now at the school he's at, and he's in one of the better schools in the city. I could see him as somebody who would be asking me hey, he's 10 years old, can he start doing this now? Like, what age? What age would you recommend, uh, or do you have, like, is there different tiers as part of your program that uh, uh, you know they could start engaging with your content?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely so. Um, at prep expert, as I mentioned, we offer online SAT and ACT courses. Most you know college counselors will tell you not to start your test preparation until 11th grade year. But I actually think that's a little bit too late, and the reason for that is because in the fall of 11th grade is when your student's going to take the preliminary SAT, so your PSAT, which can help you qualify for big national merit scholarship money if you score well on it. So I usually recommend getting started in the ninth grade or the 10th grade so that your student has time to prepare, get all the strategies down and hopefully do well on that PSAT in the fall of 11th grade.

Speaker 2:

And so, yeah, I would usually recommend ninth or 10th grade is a great starting point for parents and students. Now I don't want the parents who have 11th graders and 12th graders to freak out. It's not too late. You can still do well on these exams. You just you might've missed the PSAT, but there are plenty of other scholarships outside of national merit you can qualify for with your SAT or ACT scores. So you guys can head over to prep expertcom and see all the online course schedules and college consulting we have there.

Speaker 1:

So prep expertcom tell us about the book again.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh yeah. So I just released a brand new book called prep expert digital SAT playbook winning strategies to achieve your dream score, and that book can be found on prep expertcom or on Amazon. Basically, it offers tons of elite strategies to help you ace the new version of the SAT that just came out this year, in 2024, which is a digital version. So it's no longer a paper and pencil test, it's digital. You still got to go into a testing center. Everyone's like can I take it at home now? No, you can't have chat, gpt open answering all your questions, uh, but there's brand new format, brand new question types, brand new content. So you really need to use the newest material available. So, uh, my book's a great option. If you're not ready for a course, um, if you're ready for the course, you know we have the best instructors in the industry. We have a 200 point score improvement guarantee. You learn a lot more strategies and techniques, obviously in the course, and you know summer's a very busy time for students to do their test prep.

Speaker 1:

So might be perfect timing for this summer coming up. I love it. Well, guys, get over there and check it out. We'll put all these links in the in the description of the video and on the podcast. If you're listening on wherever you listen to podcasts, you're going to see that man. This has been great. Sean, you are the first person who has won at Shark Tank that I've had on the show. We've had a couple of people here in Cincinnati restaurant. One of them owns a restaurant that actually got some investment from some sharks. But this has been a pleasure and I love what you're doing. I love that you're helping the kids. You know the kids are our future. If we're going to keep growing this economy, we need you know we need kids that can understand this stuff and that can go on and be a success in school and then hopefully, you know become entrepreneurs like you someday.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely no, I totally agree with you and thanks for having me on. This has been a lot of fun and looking forward to hopefully being on again in the future sometime and hopefully a lot of the parents listening head over to prep expertcom, I hope. I hope to help their families and their children succeed Unbelievable. We'll say hi to.

Speaker 1:

Mark for me? Yeah, of course. Tell him the Steelers suck. He's from Pittsburgh. Don't tell him that He'll hate me forever, all right, well, thanks so much. Thank you, thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Turning Side Hustles Into Successful Businesses
Resilience and Success in Entrepreneurship
(Cont.) Resilience and Success in Entrepreneurship
Turning Problems Into Business Success
Impact of Test Prep on Students