How a simple change decreased costs and grew a business – Small Business Spotlight 0

With colleges receiving record numbers of applications each year, any edge students can get helps increase the chances of getting in to their chosen schools. And that’s where The Edge in College Prep comes in.

Started in late 2005 by Palo Alto Software customer Jessica Brondo, The Edge in College Prep provides in-person and online admissions counseling and tutoring for standardized tests, test prep boot camps for schools, and online SAT courses.

Brondo got her start as a tutor in high school and continued helping other students throughout her college days at Princeton. She then went to work for an SAT prep company before deciding to launch her own business, which she says “has a much more customized and global focus than other companies.”

Recently, the 24-person company expanded to cover six international cities and grew revenues by a whopping 500%. “I never expected to go international so soon. We hit Europe and Latin America very quickly!” With some big names in the same space as competition, Brondo’s company has benefited from the same kind of edge that students get when they use her service.

In this case, the edge is a creative approach to problem solving, which has played a major role in the company’s success and growth. Brondo says one of the biggest challenges she’s faced in her business has been “finding quality, standardized test instructors who have the perfect balance of intellect and charisma, especially in smaller cities.”

The solution was not to be dependent on local talent to get her services where they were needed. “Over the last six years, online seems to be the direction a lot of students are going,” Brondo notes. So the Edge shifted focus. “We developed an innovative online learning platform, as well as Skype tutoring. We also recently launched our first online course for the SAT which gives students 24/7 access to nearly 700 questions and 1,000 instructional videos.”

A lot of people dream of making a similar transition, and according to Jessica, confidence is the key.  “A lot of times, it can be overwhelming to think about competing with some of the larger companies, and some entrepreneurs get frustrated about trying to accomplish too many  things. I often think that people are too focused on what other companies are doing and less focused on just doing what they do really well. In yoga, teachers will tell you to focus on what is going on your mat and not look around at what others are doing and I think that holds true as an entrepreneur.”

The Edge in College Prep is a growing business. Within five years, says Brondo, they expect to employ 100 people. “We hope to continue the expansion of additional online course products, and hope to create a network of Edge-certified tutors throughout the world for students looking to supplement their courses with in-person or online tutoring.”

How does she manage the business with those targets in mind? “Having a business plan has allowed us to stay focused on hitting certain expansion goals, but it also gives us the flexibility to know when we have to change goals, add new goals, and how that will impact other targets and timelines.”

Jessica and The Edge are becoming known as an authority in the field of college admissions, with features and quotes in Family Circle, Forbes.com, MSNBC, and other online and local publications. “When I’m passionate about something I give 200% . The sleepless nights are worth it when you know that you’ve created something from the ground up,” she notes, adding with a smile “midday workouts aren’t too bad either.”

The Edge in College Prep used Business Plan Pro to write their business plan, and currently uses LivePlan online business planning software to continue making planning a part of their ongoing business planning efforts.

 

 

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