Elevator Pitch: Crimson Education

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Jamie Beaton, CEO and co-founder of Crimson Education.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

Crimson Education was founded with one goal in mind - to help students reimagine what’s possible by achieving their greatest potential. Since beginning as a small start-up in New Zealand in 2013, we have grown to be a global company supporting thousands of students gain admission to the world’s top-ranked universities, particularly Ivy League colleges, Oxford and Cambridge.

We’ve developed a world-class network of 2,000 tutors and mentors, who offer local insight and global expertise to support our students. We give each student a personalised and strategic roadmap plus hands-on support and resources to enable them to reach their dreams. As well as helping people through the application process, Crimson has helped its students access $31.9m AUD of scholarships and financial aid to the world’s top universities.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We now operate in over 10 cities around the world, where we host regular seminars, provide presentations at schools directly to students, and attend public expos to provide unrivalled insights into best-fit universities with helpful tips on how to navigate the complex application process.

In 2016 Crimson undertook a series B funding round, and secured $30M USD investment from Tiger Global to break down the barriers to accessing the world’s best resources and schools. Crimson Education is now reportedly valued at over $200M AUD, and further international expansion is planned. we can work together on upcoming projects and refer clients to each other when appropriate

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Crimson offers a uniquely holistic education service in Australia and New Zealand, and is seeing increased interest from students year on year. Our approach focuses on a student’s goals, interest areas and abilities before mentoring them to stand out as first-class candidates for best-fit universities across the world.

Services that our team offers include academic tutoring and standardised test preparation, sports scholarship guidance, medical school admissions consulting, as well as extracurricular and leadership mentoring. All of these areas are important for students applying to top US and UK universities and from undergraduate entry through to postgraduate studies.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Demystifying the US and UK college application process so that students and parents realise that admissions to top universities is possible. The process is complex and can be overwhelming for international students because the admissions offices look beyond just academics to include extracurricular activities and leadership qualities. Crimson’s extensive mentor network has the first-hand experience to help guide students through the process, and ultimately help students unlock the doors to the world’s highest-ranked institutions.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

My YuGiOh app. YuGiOh is a trading card game which lets you duel against players from across the world with customized decks of cards. It’s a fun way to relax while still keeping your mind engaged and challenged.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

I’ve shared this advice some time ago and it still rings true. When it comes to business creation, you have to solve a real problem. You need to identify a niche problem that affects a niche market, and you need to make life easier for this group.

After that it's less about the idea itself and more about learning and adapting. If you're wedded to an idea that you think is amazing, but that no one else thinks is working, you need to be responsive and willing to change. At the same time, recognise that not everyone is going to be happy with what you're doing and learn to accept it. Zone out the backlash and focus on your differentiated contribution to the world.

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