My Kind of College teaches kids about college basics through the use of cartoons. Anne Raphael draws most of the cartoons herself and runs MyKindOfCollege.com. She took some time to answer some questions about how she started her business.
Young Money: Tell me about yourself.
Anne Raphael: Hi everyone! I’m Anne and the founder of My Kind Of College. I’m 23 and a graduate from the University of Southern California. Although My Kind Of College is full of cartoons and illustrations, I have no formal art training. As a child I spent a lot of time drawing and painting, but as I became more involved with school and college I stopped. Shortly after My Kind Of College was in its developmental stages, I quickly realized that the drawing skills I once had needed to be reinvigorated. I literally spent months teaching myself once again the drawing skills I had mastered when I was younger. However, with time and patience My Kind Of College became the site you see today.
YM: This is such a creative idea. How did you come up with this?
AR: Originally I wanted to create a site that offered company ratings to students interested in internships. After discussing this idea with my father, we soon discovered that there were many other subjects pertaining to college and college life that students needed help with.
In developing My Kind Of College, I took into account many of my own college experiences. When I was a senior in high school I was so excited about heading off to college for the first time. I mean I seriously couldn’t wait! I thought that the moment my feet touched the college campus I would achieve instant maturity. It’s funny to think about now, but back then I thought that by simply attending college I would understand everything I needed to know about college and the real world. As I soon discovered, that would not be the case. There was so much that I didn’t understand about college and there weren’t any user-friendly resources to help assist me in my transition into adulthood.
My Kind Of College is a website that seeks to make the complex simple. College is an inevitable for most students and My Kind Of College makes the inevitable less intimidating. Many college preparation websites are vague, confusing, and are about as user-friendly as the cockpit of a 747. Students curious about college, but too young to apply, may find the language used in other sites to be confounding and even inappropriate. That really is where we step in. Even though I’m 23, I still love cartoons and I know a lot of people my age and older that do as well. Cartoons are a great way to present material in a friendly manner without overwhelming your audience. We cover a wide range of topics from how to make a bank deposit, do laundry, and avoid procrastinating- among other topics. I’ve received comments from students ranging in age from their twenties to 10 years old saying that they learned more from My Kind Of College than they did from any other college resource. Let’s face it, for a lot of students, college is scary, but when you prepare students for college in a really fun way, they begin to realize that there isn’t anything to fear.
YM: Do you draw all of the cartoons yourself?
AR: It’s crazy to think about, but yes, the vast majority of the cartoons that you see on the My Kind Of College were drawn by me. My younger brother has helped me out and drawn a few here and there too. I’ve also received input from my younger brother and my father as to how I can better improve the cartoons. It was a lot of hard work and many, many hours have gone into the creation of My Kind Of College.
YM: Why Cartoons?
AR: Why not? Kids love cartoons. Even adults love cartoons, although some may be too shy to admit it. Cartoons are straight-forward, friendly, and fun to look at. When you’re learning from a cartoon you almost forget that you are learning at all and you can get a real kick out of it. Besides, it’s different. You also have the opportunity to use your imagination and the ability to understand a serious topic from a different perspective. Cartoons are integral to making the complex topics we discuss easy for even the youngest of students to digest.
YM: Where did you get the funding to start your company?
AR: I’m really fortunate that my parents have supported me throughout this business venture. I am truly indebted to them. I really owe them a lot.
YM: What are your plans for the future?
AR: To offer even more high quality articles that allow for the transition into college to be an easy one. I definitely have plans to offer more avenues by which visitors can interact with one another and share their experiences and offer advice. And of course since My Kind Of College is new, to spread the word across the country and hopefully the world.
YM: What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
AR: A lot of young people are so eager to go into business for themselves with the sole intent of becoming fabulously wealthy that they forget what the purpose of a business is—to solve a problem. Look at your intended market and identify a problem that they are facing. Once you’ve identified the problem, come up with a viable solution that your customer will love. I know this advice is easier said than done, but anything worthwhile is worth working hard for. My Kind Of College took hours and hours of hard work and dedication to create. I had to teach myself several computer languages and revive my drawing skills. At times I even doubted myself, but I kept telling myself to soldier on.
I don’t know if many of you know this, but the path to becoming an entrepreneur is a lonely one. People will try to bring you down. Others will ask why you’re trying to build a business from scratch when getting a 9 to 5 is much easier to do. Some may even try to tell you that you’re dumb for trying to become an entrepreneur. In the words of my hero Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Have the courage to stand alone and turn your dreams into reality, because if you don’t, no one else will.
YM: Please tell me anything you want people to know about My Kind Of College
AR: When I was a student at USC I spent about 3 years volunteering at an inner-city afterschool program helping at-risk elementary school students succeed in their school work. As a volunteer I felt helpless because there weren’t very many high quality and free resources that these students had access to. Consequently, in developing My Kind Of College I thought of these students and all students in general and what I could do to help them learn more about college in a fun and easy way. I truly hope that My Kind Of College gives students the confidence to conquer any educational challenge that they may encounter.
Be sure to visit MyKindOfCollege.com