Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matt Pasternack, CEO of Once, located in Oakland, CA, USA.

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

Once is an early-reading program for Pre/K/1 sold to school districts that deliver daily, one-on-one, in-person instruction. We remotely train and coach school-based support staff to follow a scripted curriculum based on the Science of Reading. All instructional sessions are video recorded, and instructors receive weekly, live video coaching from the Once team.

Tell us about yourself

After college, I spent several years in education, first as a teacher and then as a district administrator. I believed then, as I do now, that every child should have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Our mission - teaching early elementary school students to read fluently and independently motivates everything I do.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Hiring a superb team and building the partnerships to launch a randomized controlled trial of our work just 6 months into our company's existence are my biggest accomplishments.

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

Knowing how to prioritize your time is the hardest thing about being a business owner or a leader in general.

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

  1. If you are selling to businesses, spend some time working as the business you one day want to sell to because it will make you smarter about their needs.
  2. Setting unrealistic goals is a path to burnout.
  3. Most company trajectories are a marathon, not a sprint - before you start a company, make sure you actually want to be working on that problem for a long time.

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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