Ryan Frankel is the founder of EduPlated. Former CEO and Co-Founder of VerbalizeIt (acquired by Smartling in May, 2016). Previously appeared on “Shark Tank”. Author of “The Making of an Entrepreneur: Lessons from a Winding Journey Towards Entrepreneurship”. 2012 MBA graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 2012 alumnus of the Techstars business accelerator in Boulder, Colorado. Inc Magazine as a Top 35 Under 35 Entrepreneur.
Queble is the technical team behind EduPlated. From web and mobile design to complex backend system implementation, our team has worked with Ryan intensively to build their product. In this article, we have invited Ryan to share his entrepreneurial journey with you. I’m certain you will learn valuable lessons from his story!
I wish I could say that ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur. But that’s not true.
My ambitions were a little more naïve — I wanted to become a professional baseball player. I know, it’s quite laughable, right? — but as a boy my parents imbued in me the belief that I could become whatever I set my mind to. And I had my sights set on baseball. Naturally, I bore witness to my father’s entrepreneurial pursuits and Mom’s unending devotion to her family and the community at large and I knew that one day I wanted to create something special much like they had done. But I was drawn to the sport of baseball and I worked tirelessly towards the pursuit of a professional baseball career.
Alas, as my college graduation and baseball career at Haverford neared, I realized that I was not quite MLB material and I began dabbling in my own business ventures. At first, I started offering private baseball coaching lessons to parents in the Haverford area. I devoted hours each morning and in the evenings to studying the stock market, trading currencies through foreign exchange platforms and preparing for a series of interviews critical for landing a job in financial services. As graduation neared, I accepted a fulltime role at Goldman Sachs and moved to the foreign land of New York City within weeks after graduating.
My days at Goldman Sachs in New York were eye-opening. I learned a lot about the business world and felt smarter each and every day by virtue of the brainpower of my colleagues. Despite being taken under the wing by my boss, I realized early-on that I didn’t want to be cog in the wheel of a larger organization and I began dabbling in a side business venture. Twelve months into juggling the fulltime job and the development of a college-athletic recruiting startup, I started to experience significant burnout. I was up daily at 5:00am to hit the gym. I was in the office from 7am — 10pm. And then, I’d head home to work on my startup, first stopping by Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee and picking up steamed dumplings for some necessary fuel. Months of working around the clock and I was sufficiently burned out and ready for a change.
I applied to Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania because I wanted to expose myself to new ideas, new people and a personal rebranding. Despite the distance from my girlfriend (now, wife) in New York, Wharton proved to be the perfect launching pad for my first real startup. Along with a co-founder, I helped build a language translation platform which we took on the ABC TV Series, Shark Tank, and incubated the business in Techstars.
Four years (and a lot of gray hairs) later and we found a buyer for the business and I moved on to found EduPlated.
EduPlated is an online nutrition coaching platform connecting people aspiring to make smarter nutritional decisions with a dedicated Registered Dietitian coach, all online and from the comfort and convenience of one’s home or office.
We are still in our infancy at EduPlated, but thus far the experience has been tremendously rewarding and it’s a pleasure to wake up each day to build a business with far-reaching health implications.
My best advice to soon-to-be entrepreneurs is to overemphasize the importance of working with great people. A good business partner can make a business just like a bad one can create a horrific experience. It’s truly the caliber of one’s colleagues that determines the success of a business. And finally — don’t forget to enjoy the ride that is the startup journey! The destination is but a small fraction of the overall experience so make sure to balance the highs with the lows, celebrate small wins and enjoy the challenges and opportunities associated with entrepreneurship.
Thank you, Ryan, for sharing your startup journey with us. Make sure you visit EduPlated’s website and download the app! Let us know what you think.