Andrew Grauer | Co-founder and CEO of Course Hero
Andrew Grauer is the co-founder and CEO of Course Hero. In his role, Andrew is responsible for shaping and leading Course Hero’s vision and strategy. With Course Hero, Andrew strives to help students learn more effectively by building an online learning platform that connects them with the content, tools and services they need to succeed in a specific course. He is passionate about students, and a firm believer in harnessing the power of technology to improve education. Andrew received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Cornell University and is a native to the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also been listed as one of America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs by BusinessWeek.
I Am Driven By | The desire to make Course Hero the best educational resource possible. We want to provide students worldwide with the supplemental content, tools and services they need in order succeed in their specific classes. I started Course Hero when I was a student myself, so I understand the accessibility issues that we’re trying to address firsthand.
A Key Talent | Be a persistent optimist. It’s too easy to focus on all the problems around us and be overwhelmed by the negative information, but it is very powerful to think about and act on hopeful solutions.
For example, in the early stages of building a company, it’s important to be able to keep on building, testing and problem solving to find product-market fit as fast as possible. At the same time, you need to manage your burn rate so that you don’t run out of money and therefore go out of business.
This is an exciting, stressful period of time that involves a lot of unknowns … You need to stay positive and hopeful, even when the results are not as good as you hoped, or worse yet, failures. It’s also crucial that you don’t burn out.
You also can’t always stay up working into all hours of the night and push something out, because often you’ll revisit it the next day and it will be broken. You need to balance speed and quality in these moments to optimize for maximum output efficiency. Also, you need to think big and long-term, but act small. You’re not going to build something truly awesome in a few weeks or even a year. To build something amazing, you need to be ready to endure for years (5-10 years vs. 1-2 years) while executing on all the little steps in the short term.
My Highlights | I am incredibly satisfied with the journey that is and has been Course Hero. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and excited about what we are working on for the future. For me, the Course Hero journey is filled with epic problems to solve and many stressful events, but I consider these to be integral parts of what it takes to achieve lasting success.
Lessons I’ve Learnt | I’ve learned many valuable lessons over the course of my journey as an entrepreneur thus far, but there are a few I’d like to draw attention to, as I believe they apply to everyone:
- Focus on building something sustainable – don’t be tempted by getting rich quickly, it takes time to create value
- Don’t get hung up on ideas – it’s important to bounce your ideas off the people around you and get some perspective; constructive criticism can be a valuable tool
- Be persistent, and don’t be afraid to fail – it’s one of the best ways to learn
Dealing With Doubt | I’ve learned that failure is part of what it means to be an entrepreneur and it’s important to learn from failure, rather than be paralyzed by it. When we first started Course Hero, for example, my brothers and I wanted to secure external funding but had no idea how hard it would be to do so. Instead of giving up, however, we decided to take on investments from family and as result, were able to build our company without going out of business. Once we established our product-market fit and hit one million monthly visitors, we were able to successfully raise money from external investors as well.
To Perform At My Peak | I make it a point not to burn myself out. As the co-founder and CEO of Course Hero, I’m constantly thinking about where we’re going as a company and what kind of changes we can make to further improve the experience for our users. But, that doesn’t mean that I work 24/7. It’s important to take time off and recharge every now and then – whether that means a round of golf with friends or a family vacation to Canada.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | There are a few resources that I turn to, each for different reasons. In no particular order:
- My family and close friends – as these are the people I love, lean on, and spend the majority of my time with outside of work.
- The Course Hero team – we hire people who are not only smart and driven, but are friendly and fun to be around, which is a plus since we spend the majority of the work week together. We inspire, challenge, help, and work together to grow Course Hero and ourselves.
- Entrepreneurs – working in Silicon Valley, there are entrepreneurs everywhere. Some are young and getting started, others are experienced and successful, but everyone has valuable insights to share. I admire what Brian Chesky, of Airbnb, is doing, for example.
- Books – there are a few that I’ve read that were recommended to me by people I respect, including The 4 Disciplines of Execution (by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling), The Innovator’s Solution (by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor) and Playing to Win (by A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin).
The Best Advice I’ve Received | Just do it. Don’t focus on all the reasons why you can’t or won’t be able to succeed – just get out there and make it happen.
Inspiring Others | We strive to create an open working environment where everyone can express his/her opinion and as a result, decisions are not made unanimously, we are very much a team here. As we grow, it’s become that much more important to hold on to the core values upon which Course Hero was founded, so we also put a lot of energy into our recruiting efforts. We hire smart people who are willing to take risks and work hard, but who also want to have fun. Learning to manage and motivate a team is not easy, but when people feel valued, they are more invested in the success of the company.
Useful Links |
Watch below as Andrew discusses education technology and his vision for Course Hero.