Brad Schiller, the Founder and CEO of Prompt, has spearheaded a remarkable journey in the education sector. Prompt, the largest college admissions essay coaching company globally, offers a sophisticated software platform that simplifies the college application process for over 15,000 students.
Additionally, Prompt’s network of around 100 part-time writing coaches assists over 5,000 students with over 30,000 hours of writing coaching. The company’s revenue is projected to hit $4 million in 2023, showcasing an impressive 20-60% growth rate over the past seven years.
Interestingly, about two-thirds of Prompt’s revenue comes from selling to businesses. The company white-labels its software platform and essay coaching for over 500 private college counselors and high schools worldwide. The remaining third of the revenue is generated by directly serving families under the Prompt brand.
In a recent expansion, Prompt launched “Pen,” a literacy curriculum that empowers English learners across India and Latin America to confidently use English in academic and workplace settings, aiming to surpass 20,000 learners by the end of 2023.
Schiller’s journey began with a personal passion for enhancing written communication and critical thinking skills. Having recognized the need for effective communication during his tenure at McKinsey, Schiller’s mission evolved into enabling widespread proficiency in structured and impactful communication.
Prompt’s path to success was characterized by iterative development. Starting as a marketplace for obtaining feedback on writing content and structure, the company eventually focused on college admissions essays, where initial customer traction was found. This niche specialization paved the way for Prompt’s growth, and the company released a software and coaching services product tailored for private college counselors in 2017, generating $200,000 in annual recurring revenue.
The journey, however, wasn’t without challenges. Schiller’s persistent drive to enhance literacy and critical thinking skills led to various product diversifications. While some ventures incurred significant investment and time, Prompt’s recent literacy curriculum, “Pen,” seems to have struck the right chord.
Schiller’s grit is evident in his personal journey as well. Despite starting Prompt in 2014 with minimal resources and while facing financial challenges, Schiller’s dedication led to steady growth. With four children and his wife pursuing a PhD, Schiller even resorted to independent consulting to support his family while building Prompt.
An “oh shit” moment in 2021 posed an existential threat to Prompt. Operational inefficiencies caused delays in essay reviews, jeopardizing the upcoming college admissions season. Schiller took decisive action, revamping operations and streamlining costs, saving the business from a dire situation.
Key to Prompt’s success is exceptional operational efficiency and a keen focus on customer satisfaction. The company’s business model thrives on selling to businesses and leveraging referrals for consumer sales. The ability to understand customer needs, offer exceptional service, and automate operations has been pivotal.
Schiller’s leadership philosophy emphasizes hiring independent thinkers who excel in navigating ambiguity. His belief in minimizing managerial layers allows him to remain close to the core challenges and prioritize high-value problem-solving.
Schiller’s journey with Prompt is an inspiring tale of perseverance, iterative development, and a relentless commitment to enhancing literacy and communication skills on a global scale. Through Prompt and its ventures like “Pen,” Schiller is making a profound impact on education and communication.