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Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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Granite Test Prep
Grantly started Granite Test Prep in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Granite Test Prep?
In my junior year of high school, I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness after reading Emotional Awareness by Paul Eckman and the Dalai Lama. This cursory introduction didn’t lead me to formal mindfulness practice; however, it set the seeds of curiosity which would subsequently sprout in my freshman year of undergrad at Dartmouth College. In (what was often) a stressful academic environment, I became fascinated by the idea that one could simply “watch” emotions instead of being “tossed around” by them. My fascination with mindfulness led me to books like The Miracle of Mindfulness by Tich Nhat Hanh and interviews with former monks like Andy Pudicomb of Headspace.
The advantage of starting in a service business and slowly migrating to software (as opposed to starting with an app) is that you can gain incredibly rich insight into your customers and build up savings.
My curiosity in mindfulness, as an intervention to academic stress and augmentation to academic performance, solidified in my senior year of undergrad; specifically, I was involved in research formally exploring mindfulness as an intervention for academic stress and binge drinking. It was around this time that I knew I wanted to find a way of bringing mindfulness into the public sector; I knew I wanted to bring mindfulness to people who might not otherwise be exposed to it. Despite that, however, I wasn’t yet sure how to begin. So, like many people, my uncertainty led me to a finance job.
As a newly minted college graduate, I began my job in real estate finance. I spent my lunch breaks dreaming of the company I would start. I kept telling myself that I would spend nights and weekends building it. My unfortunate reality, however, was that after long days of navigating excel, I found my focus was shot, making it rather challenging to craft business plans, write code, design logos, etc. With fairly limited savings, I created (by necessity) very specific criterion for my hypothetical business: mindfulness-based, no capital requirements, fast cash-flow.
One day a friend was texting me at work; he was playfully mocking me, pointing out how he was making more money than me with his part-time SAT prep business. At that moment, it all clicked for me; I needed to create a mindfulness-based methodology for standardized tests preparation: a tool that would empower students to learn not only the critical academic skills of a test, but also how to skillfully navigate things like test-taking anxiety, difficulty focusing, and even boredom. With that, I quit my finance job.
I was off to the races, building my company, and (of course) life through an additional curveball at me. As I was trying to build a list of potential clients, write my curriculum, and build my website, my father was arrested (and subsequently charged with three felonies). My mindfulness practice would now be tested as I would hop between mocking up websites and being subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to testify against my father. Still, this adversity taught me how to live with uncertainty and find beauty in what I had. After a year, my role in my father’s legal troubles would pass and then Granite® started to really grow!
Granite has now existed for 3 years. I have the amazing fortune of employing eight other wonderful educators at my brick and mortar learning-center. Furthermore, my team and I have created 3 digital products available both to schools and individuals. The ACT Everything Course - A mindfulness-based ACT prep platform, Mindfulness for Academic Achievement ® - A general-purpose mindfulness course, and The Mindfulness-Based Educator (certificate program) - an online course empowering educators to become “Mindfulness-Based Educators™”.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater