A Slice on Jason Patel, Founder of Transizion
Jason Patel, the Founder of Transizion is a man on a mission, to help teenagers and young learners plan a robust education and career path. Having found a reputed lead investor, with others lining up to invest in his startup, Patel is a tad more elated now than he was at the beginning of his entrepreneurship journey. An accidental entrepreneur, this was not what he had dreamed about. He initially wanted to go into politics. Quite a pivot, but most entrepreneurs go through at least one pivot moment if not more.
Before starting Transizion, Patel did quite a lot of diverse things. He was a Career Ambassador at George Washington University, an educator, a nationally-ranked Jujitsu champion and more. His aim was to help run political campaigns post completing college, but life had a different plan for him. After graduating, Patel chose to mentor young adults and kids from middle- and low-income backgrounds. He was so good at what he did that a few of his students got full scholarships to colleges like Harvard and Stanford. This success led to him starting a tutoring company, which went on to become a tech company, selling a software product.
Patel feels his role is similar to that of a guide. What Patel and his team address, in addition to planning a solid path forward for the students, are the anxiety and stress parents and students face. At Transizion, they build the bridge between the current reality and the future goal, which is what truly motivates Patel. Empowering students is what powers him.
For Patel, starting off in DC and then moving to New York has resulted in a more enriched and broader outlook on life. It was in DC that he juggled volunteer work with a fledgling political career. His stint in politics showed him the chasms that divide people, which led him to work with students who really needed it. Being in DC also put him squarely amidst diversity, he encountered amazing people: Veterans, State Department workers, entrepreneurs, and more. This taught him empathy, helping him understand his students and their families better.
Setting up Transizion was tough. He says, about that time, “When I first started, I was about 80k-90k in student debt. I was working at my job in politics and was not making a lot of money. What I had going for me was that I was young and I had a lot of energy. I racked up a ton of credit card debt because I was trying to get the business off the ground. I quit my full-time job so I had no steady income. I burned through my savings in three months. I took part-time jobs on the side to make sure that I had income for business and personal expenses.” Essentially, he did everything he could to keep his dream alive.
When Patel pivoted from politics to Transizion, little did he realize this was just the first in a series of pivots. From establishing a tutoring company, then pivoting to tech; from serving a B2B target audience (which didn’t work out well for him) he pivoted, once again, to a B2C model. What has helped him survive and thrive are ingredients that most aspiring entrepreneurs need to succeed: self and environmental awareness, drive to achieve, determination and perseverance, innate sense of competition, hardiness, and hugely positive resolve. He had a lot of hope and was willing to change and adapt with time to find product-market fit, constantly evolving.
He has an interesting analogy when it comes to one of the most common challenges for any entrepreneur, fundraising. He says that raising funds is like getting a date for the prom. When you don’t have one, no one is interested in you, and when you have one, everyone wants to ask you out. As soon as they had buy-in from a reputed lead investor, others wanted to invest too. He feels that funding should not be so difficult for people without Ivy League, MBA, or Silicon Valley backgrounds. He has spent an inordinate amount of time and effort in networking. He says, “If you don’t have those relationships, you’re going to have to work really hard to make them while balancing a business, gaining traction, and then telling that story to investors so they want in.” As a result of the struggles he faced, he wants to help founders who are overlooked, and under-invested in, to ensure that they can get their ideas into the world, and then pay it forward by investing in younger investors. He feels very passionately about further strengthening the ecosystem for startups, investors, and the country.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is, “Listen to your customers, network like your life depends on it, pivot whenever needed, analyze data logically and be grateful for all the tough lessons learned along the way.” He measures success uniquely. He says that success is a combination of doing one’s fiduciary duty by one’s investors and employees, giving value to clients and evolving. Patel’s dream is to be a titan of his industry. He says, “The roads, the school system, the peace, political dialogue, these have been given to us by the people who lived before us. They built a great place, so let’s build an even better one and then pass it down. That’s an obligation that we have.” Making the world a better place is his vision and a great one at that.
Jason Patel received his B.A. in Political Communication from George Washington University. He started his career in communications with companies including Axiom Communications Group, Opportunity Nation and PAI. In 2019, he took the leap into entrepreneurship, founding Transizion. Connect with Patel on LinkedIn.