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Interview: Course Hero CEO, Andrew Grauer Aims to Democratize and Change the Way Students Learn

Learn how Grauer and his co-founders developed an idea to change the way students learn and why every entrepreneur should focus on long-term growth to prevent burnout.

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Best Success Story:

I think in general [success] is about being able to keep on going.

We built up a great team. We have 30 full-time people here at Course Hero and it’s both the biggest success and challenge; to think of not what you can accomplish in one year but really thinking about what you can accomplish in a decade.

I think we over estimate what we can accomplish in one year a lot of the time; it’s just a tendency we have as people and I think we underestimate what we can accomplish in ten.

In doing so, I’m really proud of the culture were building. It’s really about enjoying solving problems, enjoying each other and not being focused just on results. We want to build a sustainable company, but we want to have fun in the journey and we want to be really proud of the value we create — not just the outcomes.

Biggest Startup Challenge:

I was a first time entrepreneur, so being able to ask questions was so important.

For the first three years, every problem I had to solve I’d never seen before. What does it mean to start a company? How do you incorporate? How do you do accounting and taxes? How do you get an attorney? How do you hire somebody? How do you build a culture and develop a strategy?

There are so many challenges.

On top of that, we ended up raising money from our families and friends. “When [Course Hero] reached 1 million visitors a month, [we] received a $1.5 million round of funding from YouTube co-founder Steve Chen and StubHub’s co-founder and former CEO Jeff Fluhr, among others.” It was a significant amount for us. This wasn’t just a learning experience — this was major skin-in-the-gate.

Also, not failing and trying to build true value; working as fast as possible to find product market fit was quite the challenge.

Even when we found product-market fit, not getting complacent and really building out expansion phase and building a great team and culture. I think all of it led to a lot of challenges.

#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs:

Think about how to structure yourself to work for the next five to ten years. Minimize that burn rate as much as possible until you can find your product market fit. And don’t think about creating a supreme amount of value in a short period of time.

Don’t burn out, don’t always work until 2 a.m. and then wake up late and push out something that you’re not proud of. You’re not going to build the world’s next most important, most valuable company in a period of two weeks. That’s not real value. So think in multiple years kind of time versus thinking one month, two months, three months, twelve months time.

Stay connected with Andrew on Twitter.

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Photo Credit: Andrew Grauer

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