At 28 years old, Benjamin Arabov already has more than ten years of experience under his belt as an entrepreneur. But it was when he set his sights on the education industry that he found his true passion for leaving a legacy. Growing up as the son of world-famous jeweler, Jacob the Jeweler, Benjamin knew early on that he inherited the entrepreneurial gene.
As a university student, Benjamin saw firsthand the shortcomings of the education system as well has how inaccessible it is to so many students. Technology has the power to level that playing field by providing disruptive education tools and platforms at a fraction of the cost and set students up for success in the field of their choice.
We sat down with Benjamin to get some of the lessons he has learned building a multi-million company that is also impacting one of the most important global issues at a fundamental level.
How did you decide to start Grow Enrollments and then focus on education?
BA: We started the company six years ago with no focus. We serviced every vertical possible, but after two years of operations and having some success, we realized that the blood, sweat and tears that the team was putting in were for products or services that didn’t have much of an impact on people’s lives. We ultimately thought of the impact we can have by being the connector between learning providers and students who are looking for the best courses and easiest access to high quality education.
Today, we help thousands of students every year find the right education path that has the potential to change their lives, make more money, and support their families. It all starts with having the right education and opportunities, and our role is to work hard every day to connect the two.
What lessons from your own education did you carry forward into entrepreneurship?
BA: Unfortunately, I wasn’t productive within the traditional education system. It started at a really early age. I kept getting kicked out of schools. I went to six different schools in eight years and all of these changes took place even before I began high school.
My goal was to consume as much knowledge as possible because I knew it would set a good foundation for me and my future. I think too many young people are focused on making money or having a work-life balance . They will come in spades when you hyper-focus on going after unbeatable industry expertise first . Go all in for a few years and I promise you it will change your life.
What are the biggest areas of education that need to be disrupted?
- Career-readiness and industry-relevant skills are more critical to employers than knowledge
A student with stellar academic records has got nothing against an individual in possession of the skill proficiency that employers look for when they offer a job vacancy. A growing number of organizations do not equate job readiness with university credentials, and instead look for work ethic, culture fit, and skill level.
- Access to traditional education promotes inequality
With the cost of tuition fees steadily rising every year, access to education has become more of a privilege that only the rich can benefit from rather than a right that everyone should have. The education system should acknowledge that the cost of education does not equate to higher quality learning and the degrees students receive do not dictate the success they will have in the future.
What are some changes you think we’ll see in 2021 around how people learn?
BA: I think we are already seeing a massive amount of change and disruption happening. COVID has significantly helped online education progress. The traditional education system needs to adapt to the changing times. Today, you can get access to the same or an even better quality education course for one-tenth of the price of traditional education programs.
One of the most common counter-arguments we hear about traditional education being significantly more valuable than non-conventional learning is how traditional education gives students access to several subjects that allow them to figure out what they want for their future.
I guess a lot of people do not realize that online education gives students the same opportunity to discover their interests while providing flexibility and without breaking the bank. 18 year old students can spend months taking online courses for extremely cheap so they can start figuring out what subjects ignite their passionate selves, and still be able to juggle other non-education related aspects of their life.
What entrepreneurship lessons did you learn from having a dad who is an entrepreneurial leader?
BA: My dad was a huge inspiration and a mentor to me. I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of his stories and lessons–the good, the bad and the ugly. Among my most favorite lessons from him are:
- Always have a long-term mindset. Invest money in the short-term so you can reap the benefits in the long-term
- Learn with failure and learn fast. If something doesn’t work out, accept it, learn from it and move on as quickly as possible.
- Be patient.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find the right team members and work with them on sharing your vision.
- Don’t be afraid to take big risks.
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