Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Bara Sapir, Founder of City Test Prep and MindFlow Speed Reading, located in San Pablo, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

City Test Prep:

City Test Prep is a one-stop shop for test prep, tutoring, and an upgraded mindset. At City Test Prep, we help students of all ages prepare for and excel on standardized admissions tests and in school. Our tutors work with students individually to help them recognize their ability to learn through content mastery, employ the best test-taking strategy, manage time effectively and embody a positive attitude. When students do these things, they meet and even exceed their expectations. Our holistic and mindful coaching ensures that students emotionally regulate, feel calm, and focused, and perform at their best when it counts the most. The easiest way to describe what we do is that we are to students what sports psychologists and trainers are to high-performing world-class athletes.

City Test Prep is a tutoring and test preparation company founded in New York in 2005. Our staff is comprised of skilled tutors who have collectively, guided hundreds of students to their highest performance, gaining admission into top academic programs nationwide and internationally: middle schools, high schools, elite boarding schools, colleges, business schools, medical schools, law schools, graduate schools, and more. Our integration of holistic and mindful test-taking techniques into the study process is a game changer for the test, in school, professionally, and beyond.

MindFlow Speed Reading Platform:

MindFlow is our online platform that trains students to read faster, comprehend more, perform better, and improve scores on high-stakes tests. MindFlow trains accelerated reading methods and optimized mindset tools. It has a demonstrable record of students increasing their reading speed up to 5x and improving performance on reading-based sections on admissions tests by up to 26%. While the online platform was recently launched, it is based on MindFlow Speed Reading workshops, which our parent company, City Test Prep, has taught live in-person and online since 2005.

MindFlow augments other reading comprehension tutoring (without extensive test-specific directions within) and adds value to the reading comprehension training that test prep companies offer; the process elegantly dovetails into any reading comprehension strategy. While MindFlow methods benefit students on the test, they also improve their reading skills in all areas of life.

MindFlow's training includes up to 12 hours of diagnostic tests, practice passages, speed assessments, and motivating mindset exercises. Its learning levels include:

  • Admissions tests in middle school through college (SSAT, ISEE, SHSAT, ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT/EA, MCAT, LSAT)
  • English as a foreign language tests (TOEFL, PTE, and IELTS)
  • School-level settings (middle school, high school, college, business school, law school, medical school, and graduate school).
  • Adult tracks for non-students

Mindflow also helps non-native English speakers become more effective readers. When people study a language as a foreign language, classes emphasize getting every word right, and there is a strong tendency to read and process the language word by word rather than idea by idea. MindFlow training is useful for getting the person out of the mindset of "getting the words right" and "not making any English mistakes" and into the mindset of absorbing the text, scanning for ideas, and seeing how things fit together.

Tell us about yourself

I started working in test preparation in graduate school; it was a flexible job, and I enjoyed the positive impact I was making on my students. Over time, I recognized the company I worked for wasn't meeting the students where they were: there were no strategies for students who felt nervous, anxious, or didn't finish their test on time.

I recognized that a "better mousetrap" would be necessary, which is what I created: I combined the study for these high-stakes tests with "human potential" tools for life. In addition to feeling motivated because we're helping people "actualize" and become their best selves, I personally enjoy my own creative process and engaging with solution-minded strategies. It's fun and productive.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Just one? I am grateful that I've been able to combine my spiritual, intellectual, and entrepreneurial spirits into a career. I love that I help others become their best selves and that we are part of their journey to becoming effective leaders. Completing a book, creating an audio series for test takers (The Full Potential Audio), and launching MindFlow, our new mindful speed reading platform are among my personal accomplishments within my business.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Balance. I feel driven and often want to get things accomplished, so I don't always create ideal ratios of downtime, work, playtime, etc. COVID drove this home because it became even easier to focus on work.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Hone your skills and delegate when something is not in your wheelhouse.
  2. Create an informal support system and pay attention to and learn from those around you, including clients, employees, mentors, and colleagues.
  3. Invite curiosity and creativity, and always choose to have an open heart.  4. Office dogs rule.

Where can people find you and your business?






If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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