Fahad Hassan began dreaming of an online company that would help kids utilize online resources while working at his previous job at Daylert, Inc. Not a stranger to entrepreneurship, Hassan began Daylert, Inc., a social calendaring service for college students, which later was acquired by education company Intelliworks. Hassan’s second business idea became a reality in March 2011, when Always Prepped, a math prepatory website, was created.
“Only 6% of kids K-12 are actually engaging with online tools. We’re building a platform for kids, parents, and teachers to engage in content and curriculum in a fun way on the web for free or for a small fee,” said Hassan.
A native of Bangladesh, Hassan moved to the United States when he was six years old, growing up in the metropolitan Washington, D.C./NOVA area and later attending Virginia Tech. Currently, the company is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, close to the same area where Hassan grew up.
“I love helping kids learn. At my last job at Intelliworks, we weren’t doing anything to advance learning, which is really where I’m passionate.”
Hassan was a local tutor at National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an innercity tutoring and mentoring program, and enjoyed tutoring throughout high school and college.
“I love helping kids learn. At my last job at Intelliworks, we weren’t doing anything to advance learning, which is really where I’m passionate. It was a combination of this and noticing kids going to these brick-and-mortar facilities like Sylvan and Kaplan. Parents are paying a lot of money [at these organizations] to basically access worksheets. I saw it [AlwaysPrepped] as offering the same services in a physical location online for maybe a tenth of the cost. As an entrepreneur, you take an idea like that and you build on it,” said Hassan.
Always Prepped is still in the infant stages of growth, with Hassan currently searching for significant capital for investment. Hassan quit his job seven months ago to devote himself full-time to the start-up. Hassan is currently the only fulltime employee, although there are four part-time workers.
The company has not been immune to financial challenges stemming from the economic downturn. The aforementioned capital has been more difficult to come by compared to Hassan’s last venture into entrepreneurship.
“People are still afraid to write investment checks. Investors tend to want to see you further along than they wanted to see you further along five to seven years ago. We’ve had to do more with less, until we’ve felt like we were comfortable enough to raise capital for the business. That’s been tough. Working nights and weekends with your colleagues is a challenge when you’re trying to create a good product,” said Hassan.
Hassan has also found challenges because of his youth. Only 25, Hassan finds the education business a tough place for a young entrepreneur.
“Education is primarily a business where older people generally have the authority and the input. There aren’t a lot of 25 year-olds doing what I’m doing. When I go into a school district where we want to test our product, although most people are receptive, I do find a lot of older educators who [have been] doing this for 30-40 years saying ‘kids can’t just learn online’ or ‘the tools aren’t developed enough.’ It’s been frustrating dealing with an older generation who don’t believe that technology can be a great supplement to what kids are learning in the classroom,” said Hassan.
Despite these challenges, Hassan sees the company expanding within the next year and in the future.
“We have a really big vision for what we’re trying to accomplish. We are focusing on engagement, an area that is underserved. We believe the curriculum problem has been solved, or that it’s been worked on by so many people, and we don’t want to focus on that,” said Hassan. “We are focused on engagement—can we build a game, a platform, an application where kids want to use over and over again. We want to see millions of kids engaged in our platform on a daily basis.”
Hassan also sees Always Prepped in classrooms across the country.
“We want to make a portion of our product free, where schools and teachers can supplement what they’re doing in the classroom. I’d love to see our product in elementary schools across the country,” said Hassan.
With a genuine focus on improving education, Hassan is leveraging his youth and drive to create an start-up that looks to challenge test-prep giants Kaplan and Sylvan. If Hassan’s dedication and previous entrepreneurial success are any indication, Always Prepped should continue to grow in years to come.
This article has been sponsored by:
Linkage’s Institute for Leading Diveristy & Inclusion