Zvia Schoenberg is passionate about education. She credits her interest in the field to her own experience as a student in Philadelphia at one of the oldest public high schools in the country. After earning a JD from NYU, she knew immediately she wanted to use it to make the educational experience more equitable for all students.
Zvia began doing pro bono work with charter schools, and it was there that she first noticed parallels between the world of charter schools and startups. Establishing a charter school is about identifying the need and market. From there, you need to sell your stakeholders—both government agencies and parents in the area—on the benefits of your school. Why your charter school over all other institutions?
She now takes what she saw working with charter schools and applies those learnings as the CEO of A-List Education, a test-prep and advisory company for school systems and individual families.
This dual business model is unique, and it allows A-List Education to reach even more students. Through its private tutoring services, it works with children whose families have the means to hire a tutor. Through its partnerships with school systems, students access its tutoring and advisory services at no charge to them.
Because A-List Education has a number of stakeholders and customer segments, listening to all of these parties is incredibly important.
Zvia and her team have spent time defining the different personas they serve. On the institutional side, they serve both individual schools and entire districts. Some of these clients need only access to test prep materials, while others turn to A-List Education for comprehensive support, including access to teachers and help administering tests. Listening to each type of customer allows the A-List Education team to understand their needs and develop products and offerings to meet them.
On the private-pay tutoring side, Zvia is very focused on listening to parents and tapping into their networks to build referrals. The business is referral-heavy; A-List often stays in touch with involved parents to expand its reach to other parents in their networks. A strong referral business is only possible when you know your customer intimately and continue to evolve to serve their changing needs.
What’s next for Zvia and the A-List team? In the coming years, the focus will be on expansion into adjacent markets. Zvia wants to offer test prep services and tutoring support for other stages of the educational journey. She wants to remain in touch with happy high school student customers as they move onto college and more advanced degrees and continue to offer them tutoring services.
Zvia will continue to rely on listening as she looks for new ways to grow the business. By listening to the needs of her customers and understanding how they grow and evolve, A-List Education can continue to help students achieve success at each stage of their educational journey.
Rob Ristagno: Today we hear from a first-time CEO of a college test prep and advising business. And although it’s her first time leading an organization, she’s a veteran in the education space. Hear how she’s taken her deep industry knowledge and combined that with her skill for listening to customer needs in order to build a successful organization that’s primed to expand into new markets.
Announcer: This is the CEO Campfire Chat with your host, Rob Ristagno. Taped in front of a live studio audience, join us to hear successful growth stories from middle-market companies just like yours. Sponsored by the Sterling Woods Group.
Rob Ristagno: Welcome to the CEO Campfire Chat recorded live in front of a studio audience of senior executives. I’m your host, Rob Ristagno and have the privilege of introducing you to Zvia Schoenberg, the CEO of A-List Education, which is an organization dedicated to improving student performance and supporting schools when it comes to things like exam prep and college admissions. Zvia is a true leader in education; she has served on the management team for several different charter schools, the New York City Department of Education, and various ed-tech companies such as Kinvolved. Welcome, Zvia.
Zvia Schoenberg: Thank you so much, Rob, for having me.
Rob Ristagno: All right. So a long track record here in the education space must be some passion behind it. Tell us a little bit about how you first got interested in the world of education.
Zvia Schoenberg: Sure. Happy to start at the beginning. And I think it all started in my high school. I attended a school in Philadelphia called Central High School, one of the oldest public high schools in the country. And I attended in the 1980s at peak integration, which means like around the country that was the peak time when our schools were integrated. And I had a really positive experience, but years later, after I completed law school, I was looking around and I realized things devolved a little, they weren’t as integrated as they were in my little enclave, right?
Zvia Schoenberg: And I saw what New York City looked like, where I was living at the time, and I realized that my experience wasn’t everybody’s experience and I wanted to do something meaningful with my law degree. I never viewed myself as just going to law school to be a lawyer. I wanted to go to law school then change the world, right? And fortunately, my law firm had a pro bono program, and we ended up working with the first charter school to open in New York State.
Rob Ristagno: What was that like?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah, that was great. We represented them pro bono and it was literally the first, so we were charting a new course and it was super exciting and I felt like I could really dig my teeth into this.
Rob Ristagno: All right. So you got started on the legal path in the education world, but then you’ve transitioned over to the business part. So tell us a little bit about how that evolved.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. Like I said, I never really wanted to just be a lawyer I wanted to do something. Like, a legal degree was a tool to do something. But then I had to figure out what I was doing with that. So I was always motivated by this education issue and it was just a path to get stuff done. So I did spend the first ten years being a lawyer. And a lot of that was with the department of ed and with schools and the district in the City of New York, but I realized that working with a charter school is a lot like working with a startup. We started schools and ed-tech was big back then, it was new, newer, at least. And I transitioned and I moved to the business side and I built up a story around the parallels which I really believe were true and made the switch.
Rob Ristagno: Nice. Tell us some of those parallels between charter schools and entrepreneurship in the business world.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah, sure. First of all, identifying the need, identifying your market.
Rob Ristagno: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Zvia Schoenberg: That was important for both, right? There’s a lot of charter schools already, fewer back then, but why do we need another one? Why is this one going to be different? Knowing your customers, persuading them that your product or your school is going to be a good choice for their children or is even going to be something that they’re going to want to consider and then considering the needs of the local community and the government who’s going to fund you, AKA the payer. So who’s the payer for the product, right? It’s either a customer or a state or a government entity. So all of those were pretty consistent, I thought, and listening and understanding your customer to me is the biggest driver.
Rob Ristagno: Excellent. We’ll come back to all those points when we talk about A-List Education, but now it’s clear to me what you meant by the similar experience there. And I see a lot of parallels. So actually speaking of A-List Education, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the company itself, what the mission is and what your business model looks like?
Zvia Schoenberg: So we are all about putting young people in the best position to fill their long-term education and career goals, whatever those goals might be, right? So how we do this is help them win on game day. And typically for us, that’s standardized tests–SAT, ACT–it could be a state test, like the regions. We do, do some academic tutoring, but mostly it’s these standardized tests which are so meaningful. Like, they can be more meaningful than four years of high school. It’s really crazy, but that’s our opportunity, is you can help them succeed on that one day in that point in time.
Rob Ristagno: Got you. Got you. And diverting a little away from the company itself, we see a lot during COVID some of these standardized tests have been canceled or shortened or abbreviated, what’s your assessment to the extent that you have a crystal ball, is this a big change, or is this a temporary change, or will there be a new model that emerges? What are some of your thoughts there?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah, I liked the word assessment, was that a pun intended?
Rob Ristagno: That’s as good as your chart new course with the charter school upon I caught earlier but…
Zvia Schoenberg: I do think these changes are here to stay, I do. I think there are a lot of changes in education that are here to stay. That said, I do think there’s always going to be gates and gatekeepers and there’s always going to be a need for a filter. There’s a limited number of opportunities, whether you’re looking at college seats, high school seats, even playing on a team, a team sport, not everyone gets to participate, right? And so how are those choices made? They could be made by a computer, by an algorithm, they could be made by standardized tests, there’s a lot of pathways. So, yes, I do think there’s going to be change, but I do think that there’s going to be a system always in place and that we need to remain the experts so that we can be relied on for how do we do our best in this system, whatever the system is?
Rob Ristagno: Another example, just listen to your customer, understanding your community and evolving alongside of it.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. Exactly.
Rob Ristagno: So back to A-List Education, tell us a little bit, what’s the business model? How do you make money? How does it work?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. So we have two sides to our business which not every test prep company has. We serve schools and school systems in districts, but we also provide services direct to consumers, which are our families that we work with, and we charge a fee for service or subscriptions depending on the product and then who we’re serving. And we don’t monetize through the back door. It’s literally like, this is what we’re providing, you pay a fee for the service, but what’s cool about it is our school business often relies on grants or funding streams that are federal or state or local, but the kids don’t pay.
Rob Ristagno: Yeah. Okay.
Zvia Schoenberg: Most of the students who pass through our classroom doors so to speak, don’t pay for our services. So for that reason we always say that we’re mission-driven organization, that we have the same amazing high quality educators and products and they’re available to all, right?
Rob Ristagno: Yes. So real dual mission company, I guess, you have shareholders and have to hit some financial targets, but it’s nice to have this altruistic arm and doing something that’s great for society.
Zvia Schoenberg: Exactly.
Rob Ristagno: Now, tell us a little bit… We’ve heard several of our guests that have sat around the campfire with us in the past, that when you first take the reins of a new company as CEO, you have a fresh perspective, a new set of eyes and you can see a clearer path to growth than maybe your predecessor–just human nature. You kind of do something for too long and maybe you don’t have those fresh set of eyes. So tell us, you’ve only been there about a year, year and a half? Tell us what your initial impressions were and your vision for growth.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. I am a first-time CEO, so that probably adds another layer to this as well. But I took over a company that for most of the life of the company had been run by the founder with a brief transition that brought a couple of different leaders. And our founder is still very involved today. And what we ended up building together is something that I think is really valuable. He is essentially playing a chairman role and his experience that he brings, like, I can text him any day anytime.
Rob Ristagno: Well, nice.
Zvia Schoenberg: And he doesn’t run the business day-to-day, he doesn’t make these decisions, but he helps inform me. And his experience and my fresh perspective together, I think, is what has enabled us to grow.
Rob Ristagno: Nice. Nice. It’s always good to get the wisdom and what do you call it? Institutional knowledge from people who’ve been there and done that, but marry that with some new ideas. So what are some of the new ideas that you’ve had and have tried?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. So one of the first things I did was look around for silos and break them down. And there were a bunch of different silos in the company and we really opened things up. And we did that, I think, through partly when we all went remote during COVID. I think that forced everything to be transparent, online, use our systems properly, and now everybody can see everything. So when you’re all on Slack and chatting, we all say things to the same CRM, everybody sees everything. Posting shout outs and really recognizing performance has really helped bring us together, but it’s also brought out the best in people like folks now feel like it matters, what they do matters. They’re going to be recognized and their ideas are going to be listened to. And I think that’s been really helpful for all of us, for the whole team.
Rob Ristagno: Yeah. So it sounds like using technology to create an extra layer of transparency so everyone can just see what’s going on. And so in some weird way the remote world has helped you innovate in this way and figure out this new way to keep everyone engaged.
Zvia Schoenberg: Definitely.
Rob Ristagno: Great. Tell us now a little bit one thing that you’ve mentioned to me offline is that, the company is simultaneously a tech company and a services business. And there’s a school of thought, again, no pun intended, that you should pick a lane and focus on it. You’re either a tech company or a services company. Could you walk us through the story of how you evaluated that problem, where you landed, what helps you make that decision and where you’re going as a result?
Zvia Schoenberg: Sure. I do struggle with this because we want to be both, but I do think that it’s true that we have to pick, and we’ve always been a services company. We have an amazing group of educators who care deeply about student success and that’s how we grow, and that’s how we get the referrals that we get. Every business is a referral business and ours is no exception. That said, we do need technology to get that job done. So we made an acquisition over the summer. We bought an adaptive learning platform and that has really been transformational as has the use of an off-the-shelf learning management system that we also use. We need technology to get it done, full stop. We wouldn’t say we’re the best at technology so for that reason, I err on the side of being a services business, because that’s not what we’re best at, what we’re best at is delivering the education services.
Rob Ristagno: That’s a good point. You’re tech-enabled services, but you’ve recognized where your sweet spot is and where your real advantage is and it’s on the providing an amazing experience/service side. But you recognize that there’s a need for technology to be able to deliver?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yes. Exactly.
Rob Ristagno: Great. Tell us a little bit back to one of the parallels you made between charter schools and businesses really understanding your market and the needs. Tell us a little bit about the ideal customer for A-List Education.
Zvia Schoenberg: Sure. We have a number of different personas that we think about when we think of who our customers are. So we have the institutional side which are schools and districts and other education institutions, and then we have the families that we serve. So we’re going to have two very different profiles. For the schools that we work with, they are from around the country–we’ve worked in 36 States from rural to urban–and really the only thing that unifies all of them is they have focus on getting kids to college. And so I hate to say this because it’s not the right answer to say ever, but it’s everyone when it comes to schools because even schools that have resources to teach these types of classes, college access classes, SAT prep, ACT prep, they need additional resources, they need materials, right? And they need a video library or they need pieces of it.
Zvia Schoenberg: And for schools that don’t have the resources we come in and do it all. We send the teacher, we run the testing days, we do everything. So there’s really a broad spectrum. And this is why it comes back to listening, in my mind. What do you need? How can they help you? We’re looking to be a partner and we even call schools partners. So for schools we have a really broad band of who we serve, and for our families it’s a little narrower. It definitely is folks who want to pay for test prep, and that’s a lot smaller of a band.
Rob Ristagno: Got you. And is there other even sub-personas within the consumer side, on the private-pay side, just any sub-personas that you’ve noticed, certain trends around the people that make for the best students/client/customers?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. I mean, what’s interesting is the family involvement, because typically our clients are referrals. Most of our business has always been referral, pretty much from the first few years. So either referred from a school or from a friend or a neighbor. So there’s really a lot of family engagement in the student success. And that’s one thing that we find pretty consistently in our successful relationships.
Rob Ristagno: Got you. Got you. So word of mouth here, how do you harness word of mouth? I mean, how do you formalize that? How do you build upon it? Other things you’ve tried from a marketing standpoint?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. Lots of ways. We have relationships with certain high schools, certain guidance counselors love to refer that steady pair of hands, to the students, too, are looking for support. We also have referral bonuses that we pay our educators, right? So that’s always an incentive. And then we have certain parents, usually it’s the moms, who are very networked and we end up using them and collaborating with them as sort of a hub. There’s always that mom in the neighborhood you turn to for stuff. So we look for those moms, we seek them out, we make sure they have an amazing experience, that their kid improves in whatever test or whatever subject they were looking to excel in, and we stay in touch with them and we ask how we could be of service and usually those folks end up being really great resources for us.
Rob Ristagno: Excellent. I’m going to shift gears in a minute, but let me pause here to see if our audience has any questions about your business model, go-to-market strategy, leadership approach.
Steve: Zvia, this is Steve. Wondering about two things pre/post your arrival. One is, was the business always an online business or was it primarily in-person or a mix? And then the other question is, I know you have a college advisory part to your business, was that something you added on and how does that do relative to the SAT, ACT prep work that you do?
Zvia Schoenberg: Sure. I will answer the first part first. So 75% of our business, or 75% of our revenue, was from in-person business prior to COVID. 25% was distance products. So we really had to flip, it was a very stressful spring. We had to move all of our content online and get our partners accustomed to that. But nobody had a choice. In every part of your life you were doing this so that really helped. And we didn’t have to do much persuading. We just had to do a little bit more handholding and I would say there was a little bit of a pause, so purchasing decisions were dragged out a little longer in the spring while people felt uncertain. By the summer that shifted, I think, people were making decisions in the normal timeline, but I think the spring people didn’t know to make of it.
Zvia Schoenberg: So we did have to shift, but that shift really ended up being positive for us because we can track things more easily, deal with quality control much more easily. So it’s been great and we can reach a broader range of customers than we could before. So, yeah, that was definitely hard. The second question was about college advising and we’ve always had a college advising function, and in our industry it’s kind of a separate thing. A lot of folks function as standalone college advisors, that’s their business. They don’t also do test prep. Some folks do both, but it’s a pretty small industry and by the way, we all know each other. People from Kaplan work at Princeton Review and then they switch over–
Rob Ristagno: It’s not like opposing gangs or anything they’re all friends?
Zvia Schoenberg: Mostly. Yeah.
Rob Ristagno: Okay. All right.
Zvia Schoenberg: Not a softball league or anything, but maybe we should.
Audience Member: You’ve got to get a tattoo.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. People come in and out. So it really depends on the people. And in some years we’ve had strong teams and in some years you have folks leave, start their own business. So that piece of the business has definitely gone up and down over the years, but it’s also complementary. And so depending on who’s in that seat or those seats within our company will really drive how it’s integrated into the rest of our business. So right now we integrated both on the retail side for families who want both test prep and college advising because there are really two pieces of the whole and with our schools it really depends on the funding. What are they looking to achieve and where’s the funding coming from and do they have funding for this? So it’s kind of a different approach.
Rob Ristagno: When your organization is facing revenue shortfalls, you feel lost in the wilderness. Data science provides the breadcrumbs you need to find your way out of the thicket, and you also need a guide to lead you down the right trail. Scout X, a proprietary approach by Sterling Woods, empowers you to quickly unearth winning sales and marketing strategies. It’s founded in our fundamental belief that the answer always lies with your best customers. Are you ready to find your way back onto a winning path? Head to sterlingwoods.com to begin your journey.
Audience Member: What percentage of your family customers do both or what percentage just do test prep? And I assume nobody just does college advising, but probably some do.
Zvia Schoenberg: Some do. So our business is 50% institutional, 50% retail. And the college advising business has gone anywhere from 10% to say 40% of our retail side. It’s always been a little bigger on our retail than our institutional side. And I can say why in a minute, but, yeah, 10% to 40% lately it’s probably 15% to 20% of our business on the retail side. So more people do tutoring than college advising. But that business is up this year, and by year we think in school years, so 2021, because of all the uncertainty. You just don’t know, so that’s gone up. But again, it’s like people follow, depending on who we have on a team, people follow those specific advisors. Like they want to go to this person or that person because they’ve heard from another family. So it’s really word of mouth that drives it.
Audience Member: Now, one quick question. There’s been a lot of talk, at least what I’ve read, about the ACT possibly going away and not needing those tests anymore. So how do you guys look at evolving and look at the situation if and when that did happen?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. I believe that may happen, but again, colleges need a way to evaluate incoming applicants. So the risk is if the SAT and ACT actually go away, the risk is that state systems are going to design their own tests and that we have a much more distributed and diverse set of exams that kids are going to have to figure out, which is really a challenge for everyone, but especially for families that don’t have the time or resources to figure that out. Or you could use the computer algorithm to figure it out, but there has to be some system, it has to be transparent or else there’s a concern about unfairness or even litigation. You need to announce these are the criteria, this is our rubric, this how we evaluate candidates, and this is how you can put your best foot forward, is what we’re looking for.
Zvia Schoenberg: So I do believe that some schools aren’t going to bring the tests back. There’ve always been test optional or test blind schools that won’t look at the tests. And I think that’ll continue to be the case. And some students do really well on their tests. They do better on the tests than they ever do on their grades. So those students are going to continue to want to take the test and kill it. And then there are other students that do much worse on the test than they do in their grades. And they’re going to be excited to apply to a school that won’t ask them to take those tests. So I think it’ll just be you find your right fit as a young person and I think there’ll be something for everyone.
Audience Member: Zvia, I have a question just out of curiosity, what your personal feelings are in regards to the college admission scandal and just maybe where you all come from in understanding that these institutions are working so hard to fundraise on a daily basis and if you could see that there’s some value in offering a spot for a freshmen for, I mean, I hate for it to be sold in some ways, but just maybe what your personal opinion is and in regards to how that broke down?
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. I mean the scandal was awful and mortifying and the way college costs are out of control and the system is broken, right? We can all recognize that. It’s not fair, it probably never has been fair, right? But this is the way it is right now and if you are an 11th grader, you’ve got to work within the system that exists because you want to get ahead and you want certain things in your own life.
Zvia Schoenberg: So from an individual’s perspective, you’ve got to play the game. This is the game. We can fight to fix it, but this is game right now. And schools have a lot of financial obligations and they have reasons for setting their tuition rates where they do, so from their individual perspective, they can’t just make school free, right? So they have their obligations. So from each player if you can put yourself in any of the player’s shoes, it’s really hard to see your way out of this and to see your way into change. And for me, I think this needs to be something on the federal level. I think it needs to be something that’s regulated, not that we’re asking schools to do, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of any one school to take any action and without collective action, if that makes sense.
Audience Member: Thank you.
Audience Member: Zvia, another question. There are a lot of players who have been aggressively growing and expanding and investing in tutoring businesses and a lot of them have been making news, some have been acquired recently, others are just growing very fast-paced, raising a lot of venture capital–do you find yourself competing at all in that market there–just such a big market that’s growing significantly and you don’t really run up against any of these other players?
Zvia Schoenberg: Well, compared to some of the big players we’re a small player, so there’s that piece which benefits us in a certain way. But yeah, it is very competitive. I feel like ed-tech is finally having its moment and there’s just been a lot of interest and activity, which is great. And yeah, it is competitive. I’ll just say that. For sure it is. But there’s also a lot of need and I believe because the world of education is getting more and more distributed, there’s a lot of different types of companies that can exist. It’s a big marketplace. And so for folks like us we have contracts with certain districts, which are really valuable and they renew every year, and so we have those relationships.
Zvia Schoenberg: And so all we can do is look to provide the best service we can for these students in those districts and get those renewals and work our hardest to just be responsive and meet the need. And there may be bigger players that come in with shinier pieces of software than we have, and that probably will happen. But a lot of education is person by person, block by block, you know your local principal and the school that’s around the corner. So a lot of this is these relationships. And so that’s historically where we’ve competed and where we played really well.
Audience Member: That’s great.
Rob Ristagno: All right. A few other questions here. I mean, one thing I want to come back to is you mentioned that you have a dual mission. Youhave the institutional side which is often funded by grants and you have the retail side which is private families paying. At some point I imagine there’s a conflict in, how do you prioritize something, there’s limited resources, maybe you need to do something that’s in the best interest of the institutional side of the house even if it’s drawing on the profits being made on the retail side, how do you make these trade offs? And maybe you have some specific examples you could share with us.
Zvia Schoenberg: It’s interesting because the institutional work we do is actually profitable.
Rob Ristagno: Oh, okay.
Zvia Schoenberg: Right? So we calculate our costs, we hire the teachers or produce the books or whatever it might be and it’s just a fee for service typically with the schools. And we have to disclose to the school districts what our costs are because it’s with a government agency, the contract, so, yeah, we’re transparent, but we’re profitable. So it’s just a different piece of business. So there’s never really been that push and that pull. We have the content, we have the educators and look for business wherever it comes. And so a lot of our tutors can also be in the classroom one day and in a family’s home or Zoom room on another day. And so I think they enjoy that kind of diversity of work and that kind of makes it work for everyone actually.
Rob Ristagno: And you also mentioned this was your first time being a CEO, what advice do you have for other people who are in the seat for the first time?
Zvia Schoenberg: Listen and be humble. We don’t know everything and it’s great to learn from folks who know more than you and being surrounded by folks who know more than you is the best. So I feel like I have a team that just has so much experience and I’m so grateful for them every day. And the fact that I mentioned the former CEO, who just gives me so much insight and so much learning, and I think it’s fun for him. And I think it’s also fun for the rest of the team when they’re valued and when they’re listened to. And it sure helps me right now.
Rob Ristagno: Where do you look for mentorship at the top? Do you look to your team for mentorship, even though you’re technically their boss or where else do you look for mentorship?
Zvia Schoenberg: That’s a great question that I haven’t fully figured out; I really haven’t. I have a few folks that I turn to for different types of questions and different types of advice in situations. I think young people today are much more focused on that in the early part of the career which is amazing. I know certain people turned to me as a mentor, but I didn’t do that in my 20s and early 30s. And so to do that now, I can do it, but it’s not as ingrained as I think folks who are just growing up now are treating it. So good question.
Rob Ristagno: Got you. Got you. And what’s the future for A-List Education, for assessments, for education, for yourself? Tell us a little bit about the future.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. So the future for us is to keep growing through our platforms, through our tech platforms, and reach a broader geographic range of people as well as demographic. And what that means for us is we need to diversify from most of our business being SAT and ACT related, and we need to get into different tests. We need to get into different education levels so not being all about pre college, but rather including a lot more of high school, like grad tests and professional licensing exams, etc. Because what we believe is there’s always going to be gates and gatekeepers. So what are these additional gates that we can focus on and where can we add value? So looking for that and using our adaptive learning platform to really scale so that each client is served not only by our educators, but also by the technology and finding efficiencies there. So that’s what we’re looking to do in the next in 2021 and for the next couple of years.
Rob Ristagno: Excellent. So you found a way to solve problems for your core market and now you’re figuring out how to solve similar problems for adjacent folks?
Zvia Schoenberg: Exactly. Or for returning clients, right? So clients who worked with us before and now are onto their next phase in life. So how do we keep them engaged?
Rob Ristagno: Any other questions from the audience before we wrap up?
Audience Member: I was just curious when the company actually was founded and if at the time it was a book type of business where someone would go and buy the SAT prep book or not?
Zvia Schoenberg: That’s kind of what it is. It was five guys who were tutors, worked for a different company and they thought they could do it better so they started their own company. They had a lot of hustle and they made a lot of great materials. They wrote something called The New Book of Knowledge, trying to be funny, and it’s a foreign topic, prepping for a test, right? So added some levity to it.
Rob Ristagno: Not as good as my puns though. I’m sorry.
Zvia Schoenberg: Yeah. So they just worked it and grew the business and just delivered great service and got a ton of referrals. And hustle is the key word. So 2005 to now, it’s been around for that many years.
Rob Ristagno: Zvia, this has been so helpful for us, we’ve learned a lot. What can we do to help you?
Zvia Schoenberg: Well, we are always looking for like-minded folks who might be interested in collaborating with us. We have a ton of partnerships that could look like so many different things. We work with a union as part of their employee benefits plan. We’ve worked with financial service advisors to provide free seminars for their families.
Rob Ristagno: All right.
Zvia Schoenberg: There’s so many types of partnerships that can provide help to families who have questions. So we love doing free sessions. We love talking to people and getting out in the world and we often send one of our educators out there and usually it’s an engaging time and it’s more fun than folks thought it would be so any introductions would be more than welcome.
Rob Ristagno: Excellent. Where should people go to provide such introductions?
Zvia Schoenberg: So you could go to alisteducation.com. And we are the U.S version of A-List, even though it’s a global brand, but come find us in the U.S version if you’re here in the U.S.
Rob Ristagno: Excellent. Thank you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done here and shared for us and best of luck–we’re going to be keeping an eye on how A-List Education evolves. This has been the CEO Campfire Chat with your host Rob Ristagno. To listen to more episodes, sign up for bonus content or to take a two-minute business assessment, visit ceocampfirechat.com. See your next time around the fire.
Rob Ristagno: Like trees in a forest, your organization’s revenue problems can keep you from seeing a way out, even when the way out is right in front of. Our data-driven solutions deliver the shortest, fastest route to increased sales and lower marketing costs. The trick is in knowing how to find and use the data you already have to reveal, test and implement remedies in a matter of months, not years. When you can see the forest and the trees, everything improves. To learn more about our approach, head to sterlingwoods.com.