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Christopher Rim of Command Education: “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”

My favorite quote has always been “if someone says no, you’re talking to the wrong person.” I would tell any potential twenty-something founder to be tenacious in the path to making their business a reality. There were so many moments in Command Education’s formation that could have been interpreted as signs to stop trying, but […]

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My favorite quote has always been “if someone says no, you’re talking to the wrong person.” I would tell any potential twenty-something founder to be tenacious in the path to making their business a reality. There were so many moments in Command Education’s formation that could have been interpreted as signs to stop trying, but if I had done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Founding a business is a rollercoaster that requires grit, ambition, and a mindset to approach obstacles as challenges to overcome rather than setbacks.


As a part of our series called “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher Rim.

Christopher Rim is the Founder and CEO of Command Education, a leading New York City education and college consultant firm. A graduate of Yale, Christopher has been recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30, PEOPLE Magazine’s “Heroes Among Us,” Luce’s Young Global Leaders, and President Obama’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He previously worked at Facebook on their education team to help build inspirED in partnership with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Christopher has served on multiple advisory boards including Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and on panels such as the Emotion Revolution, HackHarassment by Intel, and the World Internet Conference in Shanghai. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Yale University, where he studied psychology focusing on emotional intelligence.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Christopher! What is your “backstory”?

Istarted Command Education as a sophomore at Yale after high school students asked me to help them with their own college applications. In high school, I wasn’t the valedictorian nor did I have perfect test scores. My guidance counselor told me not to apply to Yale (where I eventually matriculated) because he didn’t think my application would be strong enough. But it was during high school when I started a non-profit organization to educate students, parents, and educators on bystander intervention after a family friend committed suicide. I started my organization because it was what I was authentically passionate about — to be honest, college was the last thing I was thinking about at that point.

The organization organically snowballed and grew into over two dozen different chapters across the nation and we worked closely with school districts from all over the county to bring our programs and assemblies into the schools. It was ultimately all of this that allowed me to stand out through the college application process. When I founded Command Education, it was based on my own story. My approach is to help students identify their passions and interests and help them build an authentic project around that if that’s what they are interested in doing. It’s part of our mission to not only help students navigate the college application process, but also to remain authentic to themselves and explore their passions as they do so.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company? What lessons or takeaways did you take out of that story?

When I was in college, I was obsessed with the real estate industry in New York City. I wanted to explore it further during college, so I emailed the CEO of one of the top real estate companies for an internship but was promptly denied. A few years later, that CEO and his wife contacted me for a consultation for one of their kids. I don’t think he recognized me but it was interesting to see that dynamic switch — now it was him who was reaching out to me for help, so it definitely felt like I had come full circle as a professional.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Command Education is so different from other college consulting companies because of the team that is behind it. We’re all twenty-something, young, fun, and have our own unique experiences and interests. Being “near-peer” with the students we work with makes it much easier to connect with them and fill that mentor role — after all, we just went through the process ourselves a few years ago, so our students feel like they can connect with us on a personal level for advice about their education and what the future holds.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My partners Wafa Muflahi and Roberta Seiler and our advisor Dr. Marc Brackett. I met Wafa during our freshman year at Yale — she was passionate about writing and easy to talk to so I knew she’d be able to help connect with and work effectively with students. After graduation, she officially came on board as my partner, along with Roberta. Roberta was an innovative start-up consultant with a sharp business mind, and she’s been able to really propel our business forward. Marc has also been a tremendous help — as the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, he’s been an incredible resource for us at Command Education. He trains our mentors in EQ so that we can apply those principles in our work with students, and he’s always there to coach us whenever we need help.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

All of our mentoring and tutoring have been online from the start, however, we just launched an online video course. The Passion Project Accelerator™ is designed to help 9th and 10th graders set themselves apart by developing a passion project, and guides them through creating a high school roadmap for success. These courses allow students to dig deep to think about their interests and passions and provide a framework to launch and develop their future projects.

The College Application Accelerator™ is designed to teach 11th and 12th graders how to create a well-rounded college list, how to write a memorable personal statement, and provides insight into all the components of a successful application. Students will also dive deep into the college application process and review crucial steps such as the college list, application essays, college interviews, and much more. Especially due to COVID-19-related school closures and test cancellations, standardized exam scores will matter less than ever before, meaning the college essay will weigh much heavier in the decision-making process.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Giving back and helping students who don’t normally have access to services like ours has always been a core part of Command Education’s mission. Last year, for example, we traveled to California to conduct college application workshops with students in Compton. We walked them through steps such as making a balanced college list, how to evaluate which colleges are a good fit, and how to approach the personal statement and supplemental essays. We also kept in touch afterward to provide feedback on their essay drafts. It was an incredible experience and we had plans to return to California for more pro bono work this year but unfortunately, those plans were canceled due to the pandemic.

We are currently speaking with the NYC Department of Education to organize free SAT tutoring for students. Many students rely on free after school programs at their high schools for standardized test prep, and with schools now in an online setting, all of these after school programs have been canceled. Even with many colleges going “test-optional,” most of them will still be considering the scores students submit, so it’s in the best interest of students to continue taking these tests in order to help them stand out among their peers.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

“Permission to Feel” by Dr. Marc Brackett. It’s an in-depth, personal, and interesting deep dive into the power of emotions to change the way we interact with each other and improve our interpersonal relationships. It’s definitely helped my team and me connect better with students, and help them manage their emotions when things are getting stressful.

Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each.

  1. Being such a young founder, I’ve definitely encountered clients who may not take me as seriously like if I was older. Most of the time, though, my clients understand that my youth is actually what helps me guide students so effectively.
  2. I love being able to connect and work with students who are so full of potential and drive. I’m constantly learning from my students, and it’s humbling to be a part of their educational experience and set them up for success. Knowing that our students are making a positive difference in their communities is an inspiration to my team and me.
  3. It’s rewarding when families enroll multiple children with us and trust us with the process for their kids. We have multiple clients with whom we work with all of their children, so it’s a great feeling when they not only trust us to help their children get into college but also to learn and develop as socially and emotionally intelligent students.
  4. The pro bono work we do is one of the highlights of my job. It’s so important for us as a college consulting company to offer our services and help to students who need it and wouldn’t normally have access to it. We’ve had students who weren’t even considering attending college before they spoke with us, and are currently enrolled in a school.
  5. The state and nature of education in the U.S. is constantly changing — there are so many trends that ebb and flow each year, and different factors that come up. The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of this; it has upended the system and introduced so many more variables that both students and schools have to now deal with.

What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty-year-old who is looking to found a business?

My favorite quote has always been “if someone says no, you’re talking to the wrong person.” I would tell any potential twenty-something founder to be tenacious in the path to making their business a reality. There were so many moments in Command Education’s formation that could have been interpreted as signs to stop trying, but if I had done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Founding a business is a rollercoaster that requires grit, ambition, and a mindset to approach obstacles as challenges to overcome rather than setbacks.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would love to grab lunch with Michelle Obama. She is a passionate advocate for education and her commitment to the power of education to motivate youth and encourage them to make a positive difference in their communities perfectly aligns with Command Education’s mission. In many ways, her life story is incredible; her dedication to pursuing higher, quality education to better serve her communities, her admission to Princeton then Harvard Law School, her work as First Lady — she is definitely an inspiration.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram at @chrisrim and Command Education at @commandedu.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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