by Chad Gruzin
I was admitted to Harvard Business School my senior year at the University of Maryland. It was a chance encounter in college where I learned about HBS’s 2+2 program that grants admission to college seniors into a future MBA class with the agreement that they work at least two years before matriculating.
After receiving my admission letter, I got a message from Devon, a rising senior at the University of Utah. Devon informed me about the world of admissions consultants who charge up to $10,000 to dreamy-eyed grad school applicants for their support in the application process. Devon was a first-generation college student and worked full-time while in school to support himself. He did not have $10,000 to spend on an admissions consultant.
I found myself quickly drawn to supporting Devon as best as I could. Together, we read everything we could on social media outlets and chat boards about people’s admissions to top business schools. We took free 15-minute sessions with expensive consultants to unlock their gate-kept secrets.
Devon received acceptance letters to MBA programs at Columbia, Wharton, and Harvard through their deferred admission cohort. We reveled in our success and felt we had uncovered a huge need. College and graduate school admissions processes are riddled with inequities. Moreover, many diverse students who would be amazing candidates for graduate school were not even aware of deferred enrollment programs. So, we formed a team to try to address this issue.
Our solution was EarlyAdmit, a company that provided free and low-cost resources to students, starting with deferred MBA admissions applicants. We assembled a team of other recent admits to top MBA programs and compiled everything we learned from the application process. Best practices were turned into an e-book and information was disseminated into blog posts and podcasts. We onboarded a team of coaches to help applicants one on one. We recruited campus ambassadors at universities across the globe to make their student bodies aware of our organization and its offerings. We optimized our website and LinkedIn for organic search.
We wanted to do things differently from traditional admissions consultants to increase access to as many applicants as possible. We priced our coaching at 10% of market rates and built a diverse team of admissions coaches. We had an open-door policy and did not turn anyone away, while traditional admissions consultants required clients to have benchmark GPAs and GMAT scores.
A year after launch, we had 4,000 unique subscribers to our content. 60% of applicants who worked one-on-one with coaches from the first cycle received admissions to one of their top three programs. For perspective, leading MBA programs only admit 10–20% of applicants. We achieved this feat with a team working only part-time in this organization. We then expanded the business into law school and internship search support.
In October of 2022, after starting my MBA, I decided to take a step away from the operations of the business. I remain involved in an advisory capacity. In March of 2023, Tequire acquired EarlyAdmit.
The success of EarlyAdmit is a testament to the impact achieved through lowering barriers, providing affordable resources, and fostering diversity. As I began my internship search, I sought opportunities where I could share what I had learned and support founders on their entrepreneurial journeys.
I spent this past spring semester working with Owl Ventures, and the summer with EduLab Capital Partners. I have learned that there are many ways to approach early-stage investing. As a founder turned investor, I put myself in the shoes of entrepreneurs to better understand their visions and challenges. This perspective has allowed me to assess the potential for success and provide meaningful guidance.
At Owl Ventures, I saw cutting-edge EdTech startups reshaping the education landscape. Now, at EduLab Capital Partners, I am further honing my investment skills by diving into a diverse portfolio ranging from school safety technology to innovative teaching methodologies. This journey has reinforced my belief in the power of education to drive societal change and has ignited my passion for identifying and nurturing the next generation of educational pioneers. As I navigate the dynamic world of early-stage investing, I am excited to leverage my unique background to uncover transformative opportunities and contribute to shaping the future of learning.