How My Business Went From $0 To $20 Million With Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Updated: November 19th, 2023

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Shaan Patel is the founder and CEO of Prep Expert, a test preparation platform that provides online SAT and ACT prep courses.

He founded the firm from his dorm room eight years ago with just $900 left over from his undergraduate scholarships.

His SAT and ACT prep classes, books, and licensed items have already brought more than $20 million in sales. In 2016, he pitched Prep Expert on ABC's "Shark Tank" and secured an investment from billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

He spent no money on marketing during the first five years of starting Prep Expert. Despite this, the company's sales doubled yearly based on word-of-mouth marketing.

The SAT prep classes offered by Prep Expert increased the students' SAT scores by hundreds of points. As a result, parents would refer it to other parents, enabling this company to grow quickly and for free.

When he first founded Prep Expert, Patel approached the local TV station about doing a piece on SAT preparation suggestions for parents and kids. He moved from having no clients to having several when the television interview aired.

Patel attributes his entrepreneurial success to self-control and never giving up.