David Kim, CEO
David Kim, 29, is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of C2 Education.
As a freshman at Harvard University, David Kim earned money by tutoring students from Korean families in the Boston area. As he acquired more clients, Kim added tutors to his growing enterprise. “I wanted to be self-sufficient,” Kim said. “I never wanted to ask my family for anything.”
His father, entrepreneur Bobby Kim, owned a chain of 50 karate studios when David was growing up. He often spent summers with his father driving to studios to check on business.
David remembers those visits fondly. “All of the instructors took time to talk to me, even read to me,” Kim said. “Dad would always bring a pile of books so that I always had something to do.” One of his dad’s instructors, a Harvard student, took Kim to the library for his first library card and then took the time to read to him. These early tutors were important to his academic future. And he never forgot that.
“Dad would talk to me about business – he loves business, even now that he’s trying to retire,” Kim said. “He likes looking at a business and figuring out the business model – it’s like a game for him.” Kim said that even his 90-year-old grandmother peers out of her window to report on the traffic in and out of the Chinese restaurant across the street to figure out how they’re doing.
When Kim was a college junior, he contemplated going on for a law or business degree. But then he got a call from his dad who found the “perfect” spot in Maryland for a tutoring center and signed a lease. “My dad’s style is railroading,” Kim said.
“The first couple of years were tough,” Kim said. He worried about finances but also about whether the tutoring was working. He knew what it took to make an excellent tutor and he sought out people who could fit the requirements – a strong passion for teaching, patience, understanding, reliability, a vibrant personality – and he found them. Kim’s tutors undergo a rigorous application and interviewing procedure; Kim hires only two percent of the applicants whose resumes he receives.
It’s his own success stories that drive his desire for the highest quality at C2 Education. He remembers one of his own students – a 19-year-old athlete who was admitted to college on an athletic scholarship. “He ran into serious problems,” Kim said. “He got involved in drugs, his grades fell and he was asked to leave.” By the time he got to Kim, he had all but given up. But Kim then spent more time with him, talking to him and playing sports with him. Kim even gave him a part-time job. “He was very discouraged,” Kim said. “He had lost all of his self-esteem.”
Kim believed differently. He got him to apply to the local community college and tutored him through the SATs. Soon the young man was earning good grades and Kim suggested he apply to a four-year college. He was admitted and earned straight A’s. To the young man’s surprise, Kim suggested that he transfer again to an even better university. He graduated from that top-ranked university and is now an investment banker at a prestigious firm in New York City.
These are the stories that David Kim knows are possible with quality tutoring that focuses on the whole student with his or her own array of talents and skills. And Kim believes that this focus sets C2 Education apart and guarantees its future.