Business Entrepreneur Spotlight: Jae Gardner

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[Business Entreprenuer Spotlight: Jae Gardner]

Company: The Ivy Key (Tutor and Test Preparations)


Revenue: $300,000

Raised in a household where banking almost seems to be a birthright, Jae Gardner believed he would be counting numbers for the rest of his life. “My father and brother are bankers. That was going to be my objective at some capacity,” said Gardner. Gardner—who is a dual degree Harvard graduate—interned in the finance field and later concluded it wasn’t for him. “I was only happy every other Friday when the check came,” continues Gardner.

Ready to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit within, Gardner decided to establish his own business. “I became an entrepreneur because of Bill Gates and others like him. I saw my peer, Mark Zuckerberg, getting funding and germinating from literally nothing to success almost overnight,” chuckles Gardner. By the age of 24, he’d already launched three unsuccessful businesses. Realizing that he’d just about tried his hands in every field except that which he knew best, Gardner returned to his roots of teaching and launched The Ivy Key—a tutoring, mentoring, and admission consulting company servicing New York City’s youth.

Through Gardner’s previous fashion line, online therapy program, and mobile advertising companies, he learned a lot about global business, placing one’s name on a product and firmly standing by that product. The Ivy Key was, however, the first product Gardner felt convicted to put his approval stamp on. “I never dealt to a business where I could do it with my eyes closed. I could draw out great ideas but the lead time was always miscalculated,” explains Gardner.

With a decade’s worth of tutoring he and co-owner Chris Corwell provided to high school students and fellow classmates, Gardner took their combined earnings of $25,000 and opened his first lucrative company. The Ivy Key was launched in 2009 and now revenues $300,000 plus annually. Nearing its fourth year, the company employs 20 tutors and services approximately 500 students per week. “Tutoring is a great market in New York. Public officials have been failing us all these years,” said Gardner. The company has already published three test preparation books and is now shopping them around to different publishers to ultimately get them placed on Barnes and Nobles shelves.

Good news parents. The Ivy Key recently launched free educational videos on YouTube in November 2011. “I understand you cant save everybody, but there is an overwhelming amount of students who want to succeed and just don’t have the resources,” explains Gardner. The company’s YouTube channel, TheIvyKey—which uploads new videos daily—already has over 40 videos which cover the SAT, GMAT, and SHAT. Gardner is looking to upload 200-300 videos per year that will focus only on standardized test questions, awareness, and anxiety.

When asked which leaders he pulls inspiration from Gardner mentioned two business magnates. “Sir Richard Branson [owner of Virgin Group of more than 400 companies] because he bets big, plays big and follows his heart even if he fails. He’s a risk taker,” explained Gardner. “R. H. Macy is by far the epitome of entrepreneurial spirit. He started Macy’s in a small town in New York. He stuck with one idea, failed four times and still had the desire to make it. And he did,” Gardner continues.

Through The Ivy Key program, Jae Gardner is able to give back to his community. “Education is a right not a privilege,” he concluded. He looks forward to implementing additional college preparation tutorial programs to what The Ivy Key currently offers.

To find out more about The Ivy Key Program check out their website at

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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