22-year-old Paramus native makes Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list
Melanie Anzidei | December 18, 2017 6:22AM
At 22 years old, Christopher Rim has already made a name for himself.
Despite his age, the Paramus native has an impressive résumé: he started his first company in eighth grade; founded a nonprofit; spent a summer working at Facebook; served on an advisory board for a foundation co-founded by Lady Gaga; received President Barack Obama’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer work; and now serves as chief executive of a growing college consulting business.
Naturally, the recent Yale graduate is no stranger to high-profile accolades. Yet, he was taken aback by his latest feat: landing on Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list.
“My friends called me multiple times at 10:30 in the morning when I was in a meeting,” recalled Rim of the moment he was told he made the prestigious list. “They said, ‘Google your name and Forbes,’ and that’s what I did. I was shocked to see that I won, or that I was even nominated.”
The 2018 edition of Forbes’ list, released this month, includes the likes of country star Thomas Rhett, NBA forward Anthony Davis, and rapper Cardi B. Big names who made the list in the past? Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and actress Jennifer Lawrence.
The millennial is chief executive of Command Education Group, a company he founded that helps students get into top universities. The 30 Under 30 list is divided by industries, and Rim was recognized on the magazine’s Education list. He was the youngest individual in that category. In the past 18 months, 97 percent of his students were accepted into their top three colleges, according to Forbes.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Rim of the past year. “A lot has happened in terms of growth.”
Seven months ago, Rim was still an undergraduate at Yale University. He founded the company as a sophomore, and juggled running the business with his studies.
After graduation this past May, he shifted his focus to working a seven-day work week. He moved out of his parents’ home and into a studio apartment in downtown Manhattan, and dove headfirst into growing his business. The company operates out of an office space two blocks from Central Park, and another office in Palisades Park.
The business works by setting up students with mentors, who help students determine possible career paths. The mentors help students identify what schools may best suit them based on their interests, then guide them through the application process, said Rim.
“If the student does what he or she likes doing, success will follow. We don’t specifically say you’re going to aim for ‘x, y, z’ school, and tailor everything around that. It’s the complete opposite,” explained Rim. “We find what the student wants to do. Once we figure out how the student can excel, then from there success usually follows. That’s the genuine way to do it.”
As chief executive, Rim runs the behind-the-scenes operations of the business, works as a mentor, and talks with parents of students interested in their programs. According to the company’s website, there is also an eight-person team that assists with various aspects of the company, ranging from general manager to head of development.
Rim projects Command Education will generate close to $1 million in revenues this year. Rates vary between a whopping $950-per-hour “à la carte” service, or a 10-month unlimited package that starts with a $15,000-per-year retainer. The company also hosts boot camps, where students pay a fixed rate and in one week complete their college applications all at once.
Rim said the unlimited option includes around-the-clock contact with a mentor. Students who opt for that usually start with the company during their freshman or sophomore years in high school, he said.
The company, at first, was called Eli Academy, named after Elihu Yale, before it was re-branded as Command Education Group. Command Education had been the parent group of the business, he explained.
“I really liked the name ‘Command’ because we try and have students take command of their life and their future,” he said.
Since the days of Eli Academy in July 2016, the company has gone from a few dozen students to about 100 students, and from a six-person team to 18 mentors. Revenues at that time were an estimated $300,000, and Rim operated the business out of his parents’ home in Paramus.
Although the company has transformed into a successful operation with steep prices, Rim said an experience during Eli Academy’s early days inspired him to pay it forward through his services.
“For every student who pays, we help another low-income student completely free of charge,” said Rim.
That decision, he said, came about two years ago when he received an email from a student interested in his services. Rim responded to the student with his company’s rates, the follow-up email from the student left him floored.
The student wrote: “OK, thanks for letting me know. I’m going to get a job at ShopRite bagging groceries and then I’ll let you know. Can you hold an hour for me?”
Rim then offered the student his services free of charge. Because of that email exchange, Command Education Group offers students a chance to apply for their services for free. Students are accepted for the pro bono service on a rolling basis.
“There’s a big opportunity gap with low-income students and someone who can afford this. The purpose of why I’m doing this [pro bono] is to close that gap, to narrow it,” said Rim. “A lot of people in this industry tend to widen the gap by helping people who can afford it, and ignoring those who can’t. That’s not the right way to do this. We want to assist driven students, across the board, whether or not they can afford it.”
He hopes to first expand to the West Coast, then internationally to South Korea. The company also has plans to expand by contracting services out to local schools.
Command Education Group is in negotiations with a Bergen County public school to assist with that school’s guidance department. Students would have access to Command Education’s services as a resource free of charge through the contract, said Rim.
Originally published on NorthJersey.com on December 18, 2017.