Deena Maerowitz took her volunteer work and turned it into a career with the founding of Undergradadmit.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
I founded Undergradadmit to work with high school students and their families on the college admissions process.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
In a way yes. I always have connected with teenagers – I am a lawyer and a social worker and in my previous careers, I always set aside time on Fridays to meet with high schoolers on college issues. I worked at The Children's Defense Fund, in Congress and then at Columbia Business School as an Associate Director of Admissions.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I was really doing this for free on the side after I had my daughter and wasn't working full time yet. Someone suggested I turn it into a business.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you? I started and I still am working on it and changing it.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Yes! This was wonderful for me because I am a work at home mom, but also challenging to not get distracted by life at home.
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur? Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
I think women, especially, struggle with doubting themselves and their ability to balance work – and family. There is no one right way to do this and as long as you're striving for balance, you're on the right track.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I really respond to my current clients and provide them with very comprehensive service. My business has mostly grown by word of mouth, and by being really responsive, I think I've garnered the trust and confidence of current clients who then recommend me.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Been a bit easier on myself in terms of being successful right away. It took a few years for the business to really be profitable.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Community! Take every opportunity to meet others who can support your vision. Try to constantly think of ways to expand your business through networking.
Thanks for the excellent advice, Deena. Good Luck with Undergradadmit!