Serious About Student Achievement
High standards have helped this tutoring business become a celebrated franchise.
David Kim, 29
C2 Education, Duluth, Georgia
Projected 2008 sales: $48 million
Description: Tutoring company
Live and learn: When he was a college student in 1997, David Kim developed a passion for tutoring kids. "[I saw] how they improved," he says. "Being able to motivate them and relate to them, since I wasn't that much older, I saw there was a niche for that type of mentoring and tutoring." A Harvard student at the time, he launched a business and started hiring tutors.
Strategic growth: Response to his tutoring service was so strong that in 2001, C2 Education started offering franchise opportunities to those who truly understand the company's mission; to date, 40 of the company's 112 locations are franchises. "We are dealing with the futures and the lives of the students--it's not just a matter of being able to sell the program," says Kim. "It's important to be able to provide that follow-up service and really deliver on [our] promises."
Test run: Before Kim can demand excellence from students, he demands excellence from his tutors, who must pass rigorous academic, personality and teaching assessments. The intensive screening approach has yielded a range of individuals with impressive credentials, from Ph.D.s and graduates of top schools to retired scientists who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Smart idea: Good news travels fast when elated parents brag about their kids' higher test scores, allowing C2 Education to grow largely via word-of-mouth. When students write thank-you notes or share stories of 600-point jumps on the SATs, the news is proudly posted on the website. Says Kim, "A lot of our growth [is] organic."
Follow his lead: Consider franchising your business for quick expansion nationwide.
What is your secret to success?
Kim: I've always believed you should never be afraid of working hard, of just grinding it out. Business, the idea of starting something new, there's a lot of excitement there. But in terms of the day-to-day, you've got to put in the hours, put in that time. And one of the reasons I've been successful is respecting the relationships we have [with employees, students and parents] and finding the right [tutors].
Kim: Have confidence in what you're doing. [And find] support groups--a chamber [of commerce] or other people who are going through similar experiences. Being able to talk to them and bounce ideas off of them helped to keep [me] a little bit more calm and sure of [myself.] I wish I had reached out and participated in some of those things earlier on.When did you know you'd "made it"?
Kim: We've always felt successful each time we work with a student [and] we see the increase in the grades and scores. In that regard, you feel like you've made it every day you help a student. In terms of the business perspective, I'm still striving; I still feel like I have not made it. That's what drives me.What was the first toy or reward you bought for yourself when you became successful?
Kim: The American dream is buying a home. My father actually sold our home to get some seed capital to help start the company. So when we finally had enough, we were able to repurchase a new home for everyone--for my family and for myself.
Entrepreneur Editors' Picks
If You Focus on Problems, You'll Only Find More Problems. Here's How to Focus on Solutions.
Apple Asks This Jarring Interview Question as a Secret Way to Evaluate a Candidate