Spurred by her passion for educating young people, Danielle Rayo started her own education consulting and tutorial service. In 2008, she started Competitive Advantage http://www.catutoring.com in New York City to help kids succeed academically and achieve their full potential. Focusing on individual and personalized instruction, Rayo has a cadre of educators offering academic subject tutoring, college counseling admissions assistance, and standardized test preparation.
We talked with Rayo on how she started Competitive Advantage and the challenges she faced in this business. Connect with Competitive Advantage on Facebook
What inspired you to start your business?
I had been working in the field of academics for nearly six years before beginning Competitive Advantage. I have always been interested in my student’s academic and overall development, and I wanted to build a company that embodied the values I believe in.What is Competitive Advantage? What need did you see in the marketplace that prompted you to create this business?
Competitive Advantage is a boutique Manhattan-based educational consulting company. We offer comprehensive and personalized programs to meet individual student needs. Our services range from early childhood education all the way through graduate school. What makes us different from so many other education companies on the market is that our approach is individualized. We realize that no two students learn in the same manner, and we cater our sessions to meet the individual needs of our students.
Who is the target demographic of Competitive Advantage? Are you open only for New Yorkers or can non-NY residents avail of your services?
Though we primarily work with students in Manhattan, we have frequently been asked to have “remote” sessions with students via SKYPE. We utilized remote sessions over this summer, when many of our students traveled out of New York City. They were incredibly successful and provided students with the chance to speak with their educator. These sessions helped our students stay on track to meet their personal and academic goals.
Aside from tutorial services, what other services does Competitive Advantage offer?
We pride ourselves on motivating students to reach both their personal and academic goals. We focus on academic subject assistance, test preparation, application assistance, and life skills. The skills and techniques we use in order to give students a “competitive advantage” will serve them in countless facets of their lives.
What has been the most challenging part of starting your own business?
The first couple of months were very challenging, as I was trying to figure out ways to market Competitive Advantage. Nearly all of our business spreads through word of mouth. This is great because we find that the best way for parents to hear about us is through other happy parents! However, word of mouth takes time to spread and figuring out where we could get the most effective advertising was a challenge.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far in starting and running your own business?
The biggest lesson I learned was to have faith in my abilities and to stay positive. A positive outlook often leads to positive outcomes. I’m always thinking, “What good can come out of this.” Embodying that mentality keeps me going. Also, invest in a good coffee machine! It has provided me with countless more hours of work.
What do you find most exciting about being an entrepreneur?
Doing what I love to do is always exciting. Most educators use their degree to become teachers and work in a classroom setting. I have always enjoyed working on an individual level with students, and I now have the opportunity to do exactly what I want. I also think it is an accomplishment to be working for myself at the age of twenty-five.
Do you think being an entrepreneur makes it easier or harder to balance your work and family responsibilities?
I believe being an entrepreneur makes it harder to balance my other responsibilities. Though I do not have to worry about taking care of anyone but myself (no family yet), I set very high expectations for what I would like to see Competitive Advantage become. I eat, sleep, and breathe my job. I do not leave my office at 5:00pm and think that my work for the day is completed. I am always working to improve my business and my skills as an educator.
How do you see your business 5 years from now?
Hopefully, we will establish even more relationships with parents and schools throughout the city. Working with more students in both private and public schools is our goal. We want to help motivate as many students as possible and give them the “competitive advantage” they need to succeed.
What other lessons can you share to other women entrepreneurs?
Have faith in yourself and your abilities. I was just twenty-three years old when Competitive Advantage became a Limited Liability Company (LLC). If I didn’t pursue my own dreams, I would not be as happy as I am today. Find what you are passionate about and put your all in making a career out of that interest. You can be pleasantly surprised by where it will take you.
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Category: Success Stories