Since I launched 2400 Expert in 2011, my SAT prep products and services have grossed over $4 million in sales. Ironically, I never planned to start a business at all.
I grew up in my parent’s budget motel in Las Vegas far from the glamor of the strip. And I went to urban public schools in the worst school district in the nation with a 40% dropout rate. But after volunteering at a local hospital emergency department in high school, I was inspired to become a physician. I wanted to get into combined BA/MD programs that offered high school students a guaranteed spot in med school. This meant no stress about applying to med school in college. However, the acceptance rate at these programs is often less than 5% and a 2200 is often the minimum SAT score needed.
After I only scored an average 1760 on my first practice SAT exam, I began self-studying for the test. I discovered many simple strategies that helped me improve my SAT score 640 points to a perfect 2400. Of the 15 million students who have taken the new SAT, about 3,000 have gotten a perfect score – that’s just .02%! My SAT score changed my life. I was valedictorian, homecoming king, a National Merit Finalist, and a White House Presidential Scholar – where I got to meet the President of the United States! I received over 20 private merit scholarships that totaled a quarter-million dollars from companies like Coca-Cola, Toyota, and McDonald’s. But most importantly, my SAT score helped me get into the BA/MD program at USC on a full scholarship.
In college, I wanted to write an SAT prep book to help students prepare for the SAT the way that I did. Unfortunately, most literary agents rejected my book proposal citing that SAT prep is just too competitive. Even when I secured a literary agent, my book was turned down by every major publisher, with one editor even stating she
didn’t find Shaan’s writing or persona particularly engaging – he’s not a great writer, no matter what his score is.
After losing hope for a book deal, I decided to leverage my material to launch 2400 Expert. I used $900 I had leftover from my college scholarships to launch a website for 2400 Expert to advertise the only SAT prep course by a student who got a perfect score in high school. It was originally supposed to be a one-time summer course I taught to help pay for upcoming med school expenses. But after the pilot class had an average score improvement of 376 points (unheard of in the industry), demand for future courses was high. So I trained qualified instructors and have continued to manage the company remotely from med school in Los Angeles. When McGraw-Hill saw what I was building, they offered me a book deal after all.
We are now the largest test prep provider in Nevada. Expanding 2400 Expert both in Las Vegas and online has been done in my spare time when I’m not studying for medical licensing board exams or on 36-hour surgical rotation shifts at the hospital. Now, I have taken a two-year leave of absence from med school at USC to attend business school at Yale in order to learn how to scale a company – such as launching online courses and in-person courses in twenty new cities! I will then return to USC to finish my last year of med school.
Do I plan on practicing as a doctor? Yes. Entrepreneurs can make a positive change in the lives of thousands at once. Physicians can make a positive change in the life of one at a time. I think I have the unique opportunity to do both. So I don’t plan on squandering that prospect.
My advice to other entrepreneurs is to not let rejection get you down. Rejection is the necessary evil of entrepreneurship. I was rejected by 6 out of the 10 BA/MD programs I applied to. My book proposal was turned down by 106 literary agents and publishing houses. I barely had enough students to run my first 2400 Expert SAT class. The difference between successful entrepreneurs and unsuccessful entrepreneurs is that successful ones get up after they’ve been knocked down 99 times — unsuccessful ones just stay down.