Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dan Zhou, Founder of ReadyEdgeGo, located in Fremont, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We zap away stress. In a world where high schoolers outnumber counselors 500 to 1, or 1000 to 1 in California, students and their parents have nowhere to go for help on all kinds of things, like course selection for next year, which major to choose for college, and what colleges are the best fit. As a result, we’ve seen epidemic rates of high school anxiety and depression and all-time highs in suicides among teenagers. The pandemic has only exacerbated these problems. Hence, ReadyEdgeGo addresses the problem of high school stress by making the process easier and more personalized. Students and their families get real-time analytics about their profile towards college, personalized recommendations on opportunities and classes, and ultimately, admissions into their best colleges and career paths.
Tell us about yourself
I founded ReadyEdgeGo because of my experience in high school. I felt like there was no guidance, and so what motivates me every day is to provide the guidance that all kids deserve. Since 2012, 100% of our students have gone to their dream colleges, so we are extremely good at college admissions and counseling - but what defines us is our emphasis on happiness.
"One student at a time." is our motto. We believe the high school journey and the road to college don't have to be a one size fits all experience, overly stressful, or "get into a Top 50 or bust" mentality. No. Every kid is unique, each with their own interests and stories.
So what makes ReadyEdgeGo different is that we focus on that to help a student cultivate their interests and explore new ones so that high school suddenly becomes exciting, simple, and inspiring because that's what the world needs: people who are inspired and happy.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My greatest accomplishment is helping kids from underserved communities get into college and realize their full potential. I've had the privilege of working 1:1 with kids who never thought college was possible, from foster kids who never knew their parents to former gang leaders who left a life of crime. Helping those kids find themselves and access higher education has been the greatest accomplishment, more so than any award or recognition.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Emails. They're not fun, but broadly speaking, emails serve as a metaphor for the hardest thing as a business owner, which is balance. There are so many factors that go into making a business successful that it can be hard to balance all of them - and at the same time, balance business with personal life and self-care. It's a constant challenge that I'm still working on.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do it because you like it. Because if you like something, you're more likely to see it through. Don't just do something for money or the fame
you won't last longer than a few weeks once you realize that starting anything, let alone a business, takes a lot more than greed.
- Don't go it alone. Yeah, sure, you might be the expert at the service or product, but there are so many other parts to a business that you're not an expert on—accounting, legal and HR, marketing, etc. Most business owners think they can do it all by themselves, and while that might be true - like I did for many years - it's probably the one thing holding you back from growing. Yourself.
- Make time for you. Burnout is real, especially in America and in today's frenetic work life, so make sure you schedule a time to enjoy life outside of work. As business owners, we're very good at making time for business-related things, but c'mon, your ability to succeed as a business owner relies on so much more than just your business! Make time for those you love. Make time for the simple joys and hobbies you love. Make time for you.
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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