How To Start An Academic Consulting Business From Scratch with Dr. Shirag Shemmassian – AEP #21

Guest: ​Shirag Shemmassian
​Company / Business name: ​​​​​​Shemmassian Academic Consulting
Business web site | ​Facebook | ​LinkedIn | ​Instagram


​Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting. He and his team help high-achieving students get into America's top colleges, medical schools, and other graduate programs.

Tools / Books / Resources mentioned:

​Books: ​Calendly, Skype; Mentors: Ramit Sethi

Show Notes:

01:14 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Keep doing what you love to do and money will follow. 

Shirag starts off by explaining how a Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology got into starting an academic consulting business. It’s primarily started off with Shirag helping friends and family for free which generated enough interest to become a profitable business.

03:04 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: All you need are paying customers to validate your business and the rest will fall in place.

Shirag talks about how he started making money even before he formally organized or even had a web site. It all started as a side hustle and word of mouth. Then the referrals kept coming and Shirag could really sense that there is a viable business.

05:59 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Don’t wait for that magical perfect price or perfect channels. Keep iterating.

Shirag talks about the trial and error involved in finding the fair price for his services. He started off with a price that he thought was fair but as he kept realizing that the value delivered by him to help students to get into top colleges like Harvard and Stanford was much higher, he increased his prices. In the process, he also learnt about other aspects of the business like marketing and promotion.

11:10 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Be realistic about business challenges especially time management and growth management.

Shirag talks about challenges of time management and quality control. Given that the academic consulting is still a side business (even though a very health one), time management has been a challenge but he has gotten better at it. Second challenge is maintaining quality with other coaches he has hired to support the growing business.

17:36 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Outsource where necessary. Don’t try to be a superhero.

Shirag talks about the operational aspects of his business. Shirag outsourced accounting and payroll. He uses Calendly for appointment scheduling, Skype and phone for coaching.

19:06 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Be a constant learner. Be curious. You never know where that will lead you.

Shirag talks about his evolution from someone who wanted to become a physician and how his interest in mental health led him into clinical psychology. He also talks about his immigrant background and how that motivated him into keep driving himself. His natural curiosity led him into starting his business and he is now hooked.

22:01 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Keep yourself surrounded by a positive group of people.

Shirag talks about his drive which is to take care of his family for a comfortable life and also people like Ramit Sethi who inspired him. He also talks about his wife, family members, and friends who keep guiding him.

24:25 minute mark:

Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Start now, pivot if you need to, learn from mistakes and keep going. 

Shirag gives some parting advice for would be entrepreneurs. (1) Figure out what you have to offer and see if there is a market for it (2) Don’t try to create a market which is very difficult to do (3) Don’t keep waiting for ‘perfect’ everything. Start now, learn from mistakes (4) Start, pivot, fix things, and enjoy what you do.

​Episode Transcript (Click to expand)



About the Author Ramesh Dontha

I am an entrepreneur, writer, and blogger. I build businesses and love to share my experiences of my successes and failures. My mottos is: Live with purpose, Be Passionate about that purpose, Persevere through ups and downs and keep exploring Possibilities.

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