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News Press

Boston Business Journal

Dreams of teaching morph into tutoring business plan

By Brian Kladko

Rich Enos dreamed of being an English teacher, right up until the time he became a businessman.

The Andover native thought his first job after graduating from Cornell University would be writing curricular material for Kaplan Inc., the test preparation company. When he showed up for his first day of work, however, he found himself running the New England office of a new Kaplan division, SCORE! Educational Centers, which focuses on tutoring students in a range of subjects.

"They just kind of handed this to me," he said, "and it just fit."

Enos quickly decided that the market had more than enough room for another tutoring company. Thus was born StudySmart Inc.

With its core business of tutoring students one on one in their homes, the company has grown over the past seven years to 24 full-time employees and about 600 part-time tutors, pulling in $3.4 million in sales last year. Enos and his college buddy Greg Zumas, who started the business with him, have no intention of slowing down. "There's no real leader in one-on-one tutoring in the country at this point, and we have a chance to be that," said Enos.

After starting in the Boston market, StudySmart expanded to Washington, D.C., in 2000, then Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The company is preparing to enter eight additional cities next year.

StudySmart also contracts with a few private schools to run after-school classes on study skills.

Enos, the CEO, and Zumas, the president, have mostly financed their business from cash flow, along with a revolving credit line and a loan from the Small Business Administration. But further expansion will likely require some angel investment, and the know-how and connections that Enos has picked up at Babson College. He'll receive his MBA from Babson's Olin Graduate School in May.

"I went to business school to figure out the last piece of the puzzle -- 'OK, what do we do to get from where we are now to ten times this size?'" he said.

Enos, who lived with his parents during StudySmart's early years, somehow managed to run the company while enrolled in Babson's full-time program, which involved a lot of juggling his first year. This academic year has been a bit easier because he has managed to take most of his classes in the evening.

In addition to picking up his degree in May, Enos has his eye on forming a board of directors to supplement what he has learned so far. Enos doesn't seem worried that the company went slightly into the red last year, attributing the losses to its West Coast expansion. He expects the business to lose money again this year but return to profitability the following year.

Enos has clung to his original dream of being a teacher -- not in English, though, but entrepreneurship.

"I love the idea of 20 years from now being over at Babson, teaching," he said. "One way or another, I'm going to circle back to that."

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