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When Your Friends Think You Are Crazy

“Being an entrepreneur was not sexy in the mid-’90s.”

Jeff Wright, CEO, Urban Ministries, Inc.

Jeff Wright’s friends thought he was crazy. One friend even flew to Chicago to try to talk him out of it. Jeff decided, at age 39, that the only downside about becoming the president of a publishing company serving the black religious community, located in a storefront in Chicago, was that if it didn’t work out, he could always go back to Corporate America and everything would be “back to life as it was before.”

He was wrong. The move ended in a divorce and Jeff became a single dad entrepreneur with three children, balancing his time with his kids with time allocated to the company. The kids got 100 hours of the week and the company got the rest. He worked when the kids were asleep, but met the school bus every day after school. It helped that the company founder stayed around for the transition. Today, he credits that experience with his children as some of the most important times of his life.

Growing up in DC, Jeff had been surrounded by people who worked for the government but he decided he wanted to work for a business. Jeff became a senior Mergers & Acquisitions specialist, a vice president at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), who worked on one of the biggest mergers of the healthcare industry. He had a lot of valuable experience, having worked also at Johnson & Johnson before BMS. Prior to the healthcare experience, Jeff had worked in marketing and finance at TWA and had graduated from Georgetown Law and Columbia Business School, so he had a very good resume to fall back on. Jeff had accomplished his goal by becoming a senior executive in Corporate America, one of the few who was a person of color. But he was always unsure of when he would hit the glass ceiling, as those destined for higher office were usually white men.

Jeff didn’t have many friends who were entrepreneurs when he considered leaving the corporate world; Betty was one of the exceptions. They had graduated Columbia together, and she was one of the few friends who congratulated him on his jump into entrepreneurship. He had listened to Betty talk about the challenges of entrepreneurship, juggling clients like  Colgate-Palmolive, Allied-Signal and the New York Times Company.  She too told him he could go back to Corporate America if things didn’t work out.

But Jeff didn’t look back, even when many others thought he was going in the wrong direction and tried to talk him out of it. Today, Jeff has lots of friends who are entrepreneurs and he is a successful media company president, operating both online and on-ground tutorials and workshops to expand the African-American ministry throughout the country.

The moral of Jeff’s story/life? Have the conviction to carry out your plan but always have a fallback plan (go back to Corporate America?). And be prepared for unexpected circumstances because they always happen. 

Copyright© 2020 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

You won't know everything even if you try…

“When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I thought I had to know everything but I was wrong.”

Betty Wong, serial entrepreneur and founder of Stage2 Startups

Today, I assist several startups in a variety of ways, including as an advisory board member, coach and vendor – marketing specialist. In those roles, I help entrepreneurs in a variety of ways so they can concentrate on what they want to do and what they want to know. After all, most large companies have people specializing in different areas. It really is difficult to know and do everything so entrepreneurs usually have to learn what they know and don’t know.

Betty Wong on a Spring day

When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I thought I had to know everything so I could explain my startup to others, but today’s startups are not yesterday’s startups and we find that many businesses are not exactly the way founders originally meant them to be. They pivot or change as the company gets to know how to best serve its market(s) and as the entrepreneur grows and becomes aware of what he or she does and doesn’t know.  Pinterest, for example, was famously a catalog app called “Tote” before pivoting and becoming a social network where almost 300 million users share their interests on visual bulletin boards.

Since entrepreneurs no longer write those 100 page business plans, trading them off for 7 page outlines or org charts and process diagrams in the current “lean startup” environment, knowing what you do and don’t know is important, because it means you have to bring in a team to help you. I learned long ago I didn’t like to work alone so I try to have at least one partner to work with me. When I found out that Emelie was available after selling her company, I invited her to join me on our blogging adventure.

Likewise, I asked Tony to join me on my Stage2Startups mission because I wanted to have someone with a strong accounting and finance background to balance my interest in marketing, customers, sales and research. Its not that we both don’t have CEO management experience but its about concentrating on what we do best. Along the way, I met some other friends who specialize in other skills, like Lesley for website development and Daniela for social media deployment, Rajiv for online visibility and Mike for human resource recruitment. And then there were the numerous other volunteers, hosts, advisors and friends, too many to name here… Finding these fellow entrepreneurs and specialists have been a joy as it makes entrepreneurship  almost as easy an option as walking down that corporate corridor…

What I realized in the last decade is that we can all help each other, that the collaborative spirit can make for a stronger organization, a better product, a closer connection to the customer. As we enter the next decade, I’m asking us all to work together, to create a stronger Stage2Startups organization together, to share more about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial stories, to make new friends and reconnect with old ones, so we can make a more significant social impact – to teach society that entrepreneurs start at all ages and can be very successful!

PS. If you would like to be featured in a future Startups By Grownups blog or know someone who should be, please use the following link and nominate yourself or your friend…here.

PSS. If you prefer to announce your company in person, join me at this month’s Stage2Startups pitch event on January 16. Sign up here.

Copyright© 2020 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

Happy Holidays from Startups by Grownups!

May your holidays sparkle with moments of love, laughter and goodwill

Startups by Grownups is going offline for December to enjoy the holidays and celebrate friends, family and our startup community. We will be back in January with new stories about grownup founders who are making an impact.

We wish everyone a joyous and festive holiday season!  See you in the new year!

When You Have To Do Something

Alice listened and decided to change society. Will you do the same?

When Alice Fisher received her MSW from Hunter College at 59 years of age, she knew she wanted to be involved with legislation. After graduating with a degree focused on community organizing, she joined the staff of New York State Senator Liz Krueger as Director of Community Outreach. One of the hats Alice wore in the Senator’s office was as government liaison to the older adults in the district,  where she became exposed to stories about the difficulties of living as an older person.

Alice Fisher

She met constituents in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond who were struggling to have any semblance of quality-of-life. She heard stories about children looking after parents who were concerned for their medical bills, and people, primarily women, who were living in poverty.  

In addition, Alice and her husband had their own elderly parents to attend to. All these stories hit home when her dad asked her one day what would have happened to him if she did not have the connections she had to the senior world of NYC.   It was those connections that helped her secure a place for her parents in a first-rate nursing facility, although she knew that the rest of their savings would go to their care.  This required her and her sister to dig into their own pockets to assure that their parents would receive the best of care.    

Wondering how her parents could have survived without the family’s assistance, the Radical Age Movement was born.

The Radical Age Movement is a non-profit organization focused on fighting ageism in our society. “Ageism is the primary factor that marginalizes older people,” says Alice. “I realized I was guilty of ageism myself every time I thought I couldn’t do something because I was too old.” 

Through a three-pronged strategy including education, consciousness raising and social action, Alice’s organization seeks to change the conversation around age. “Ageism prevents people from continuing to be independent, contributing members to society.  Yet countless studies around the world show that older people can make a significant, positive impact on a country’s economy.” 

Because Alice knew that family is especially important to the care of the elderly, she has developed an intergenerational following for her movement. She leverages her intergenerational friends and contacts to build awareness of the issues facing older people and the Radical Age movement. She has also reached out to students studying social work to get them involved in her activities from handling social networking online to logistics of her outreach programs. Even her own family is involved. Her husband, Jon, serves on Alice’s advisory board as well as handles publicity while her granddaughter is helping manage the Radical Age website.

Alice’s work and life experiences gave her the inspiration to start the Radical Age Movement while her friends, family and colleagues have helped her build it into an important catalyst for change. What will be your inspiration for taking action and starting a movement?

For more information, see

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

How to Raise Money for Your Startup

Raising money is often a top concern for founders.

If you weren’t able to join the over 60 attendees at the Stage2Startups Investors & Founders Discussion held at Sullivan & Worcester on November 26, we are dedicating this week’s blog to sharing the observations and tips offered by the panelists. The panelists included:

Eleanor Haas, a member of Astia Angels and the NY director of the Keiretsu Forum, a global angel network.

Stanley Buchesky, who founded and manages the Edtech Fund, an education-oriented fund. 

Precious Williams (aka #killerpitchmaster), who funded her training consultancy, Perfect Pitches By Precious, by winning (sales) pitch competitions.

Weerada Sucharitkul, who received government funding from France to help develop, a Netflix for international language films, and is currently pivoting to an education platform leveraging films and AI as a way to teach language.

Gopal Swamy, a fintech founder in the banking space who was previously part of a mobile software team funded by venture capitalists and who is currently funding his new “stealth” company through friends and family. 

As a two-time entrepreneur who has raised funds from “friends, family and fans” twice, Betty Wong served as moderator and shared some of her experiences. Mitch Stein, an IP lawyer from Sullivan & Worcester, LLP, shared some legal considerations every founder should keep in mind.

Here are our seven key takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Focus on the return on investment to the investor, not on the social good, even if you have a social good affiliated with your startup. Being a nonprofit is a legal construct, not a business strategy, so every startup looking for investors should clearly demonstrate the monetary return.  (Note that in New York State, there are B-corporations which have double bottom-line goals – social impact as well as profitability.)
  2. Sell your team and your solution to a problem, not the product. Ideas are plentiful while execution is key. The whole story is not the technology or whatever your product might be, but also the team responsible for achieving market success – whether that is production, customer service or delivery. 
  3. Make sure you’re clear on the market need for your solution and who is served. You have to demonstrate that the problem you are solving is important to a large audience and not just yourself. Include what you will do to promote the business to your target audience, including allocating enough funds for marketing.
  4. Building and protecting your brand is the first priority for any company. Protect your intellectual property, but don’t overspend on patent applications in favor of being first to market. Sometimes you need to talk about your idea to shake out the potential problems and to attract team members and investors. While nondisclosure agreements often aren’t signed by investors, it does makes sense to have your team, vendors and advisors sign them.
  5. Find the right potential investors for your business. Investors have specific interests and preferences and, in some cases, competing portfolio companies. Make sure you know who is investing in your sector as well as which companies so you know if the investor you are pitching has invested in your competitor.  You can use Google, read business publications like Business Insider, Tech Daily, TechCrunch, Crunchbase, Angelist and Gust, and work with your local librarian to find investors in each category. You can also find potential investors through the founders they have already invested in or through mutual friends,and by attending events and conferences. Do not rely on one source!
  6. Be creative in finding funding sources. Most entrepreneurs start their company with their own funds, but there are other sources of funding. If you have actual orders in hand, you can consider bank loans or factoring.  Weerada suggested looking into government funding and traveling to places like Puerto Rico where accelerators offer funding and free rent and services. Gopal talked about having team members with personal contacts, observing how one founder brought in his prior VC contacts, who then became investors. Precious mentioned funding her business by participating in “pitch competitions.” Crowdfunding, the means to generate funds through many small investors, was used by one founder to help her startup.  Friends, family, fans, angels, and early stage venture capitalists are also potential funding sources though it is harder to convince investors unless they can see the potential product or results of your prototyping and/or initial testing. Always organize your contracts, shareholder agreements, and orders for easy access during investor due diligence since in the investors’ eyes this reflects on the ability of the team to execute effectively
  7. A great elevator pitch is “punchy”, short, and to the point.  A good pitch is a compelling story. People are attracted to the emotional aspects of your story matched with great execution. Panelists and audience agreed that creating a compelling and informative “elevator pitch” is hard to do and requires constant practice to reach perfection. 

This post-Thanksgiving week, we wish you good luck on perfecting your pitch for holiday networking and future capital-raising! You can find additional information about funding in our Resources – Funding Information section.

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

When You Don’t Know the Answers, Get Help

“When I had my idea to start my own social impact non-profit, I didn’t have all the answers but I knew how to get them.”

Caroline Anderson, founder BloomAgainBklyn

We met Caroline Anderson, founder of BloomAgainBklyn, through a Stage2Startups member. We were so impressed with how Caroline leveraged her prior experience and network to build her social impact organization, we wanted to share her story.

Caroline Anderson

Caroline always had an entrepreneurial urge to find new opportunities that others might overlook.  When she was in her twenties, Caroline saw an opportunity to reprint vintage photographs from museum and historical society collections and sell them with a percentage of the proceeds going back to the institutions. When Caroline sold an early photograph of Rose Kennedy’s childhood home to an investor (who then donated it to the Kennedy Library), she took the proceeds from the sale and established one of the first vintage photography galleries in the country. 

Caroline then moved to New York and joined Scholastic Publishing where she became head of visual content for the school and library division. After retiring from Scholastic, Caroline went back to representing artists and setting-up pop-up shows at unique venues.  

An “ah-ha” moment for her came when she was doing a pop-up show at the floral design shop, Opalia Flowers.  Caroline learned from Phoebe (the owner of Opalia Flowers) that there is limited use for unsold or once-used flowers, but that the industry would be thrilled to find a way to take them out of the solid waste stream. That’s when an idea blossomed in Caroline’s mind about how to reuse and recycle these flowers.  

So she set about educating herself about flowers and the industry, including taking classes at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and creating bouquets with flowers she purchased at Trader Joe’s to give to her friends.  When Caroline learned that Trader Joe’s would not sell a bouquet of flowers if there was even one bad flower in the bunch, she asked them if they would donate the flowers so they could be refurbished into new arrangements for people who do not ordinarily receive flowers.  Trader Joe’s liked the idea of donating these flowers to a non-profit organization which could lift the spirits of less fortunate people with the gift of flowers. 

After testing the concept, Caroline was ready to launch BloomAgainBklyn, a non-profit dedicated to bringing new life to flowers and joy to others. But she knew she had very little experience running a nonprofit organization. Her solution?

She invited her friends who had these skills to join her board including a former global marketing executive from Merck who sat on several non-profit boards and had extensive hands-on experience. She then turned to a good friend who had just retired as CFO at the nonprofit National Resource Defense Council who brought tons of knowledge about sustainability and non-profit management. She also leveraged the skills of her husband, a financial public relations consultant, to handle Bloom Again Brooklyn’s marketing and promotion.

Today, BloomAgainBklyn, is a community-based, non-profit organization which repurposes unsold and once-used flowers into new arrangements which are distributed to former trauma and homeless survivors, homebound seniors, nursing home residents, and others in need. Since 2014, BloomAgain has diverted more than 1.5 million flowers from the solid waste stream and created over 80,000 flower arrangements which have delivered joy to more than 15,000 recipients. To learn more, go to

Bottom line?  Older founders bring a wealth of life lessons that can be repurposed when starting a business.  They often know what they are good at, realize that they don’t have to know everything, and have extensive personal and professional networks they can tap.

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

Why You Need To Just Go For It

“You will never know how big your idea is until you go for it and put it out into the world.”

Mark Pires, founder of The Beatseat(™)

Before Mark Pires created the Beatseat™️ and founded his company, he was an MTV music artist in his twenties, a real estate agent in his thirties and now, in his forties, an inventor, daily vlogger, podcaster and motivational speaker. How did he make those transitions? We talked to Mark on his daily podcast, RealTalk, to learn more about his journey.

Mark Pires

“I left the music business because you are either Bono or broke in music. It was a good time for me to reflect on life’s priorities.  I also would have had to move to LA and with a wedding six months away, I decided to pass on the record deal to start a family with Lara.  So, instead, I moved into real estate.”

Mark’s whole family is involved in the construction business, so Mark used his building experience and quickly built a successful career by leveraging his deep knowledge of gauging renovation pricing in real time.

After ten years in real estate, Mark started “Mark Pires’ Real Talk”, a daily Vlog and podcast with a mission to affect a positive change one person at a time. It’s a motivation and inspiration show that also deals in real estate advice and, on weekends, it’s music night.  Mark has been live every single day since December 31, 2018. There is no end date to this daily mission, so you can tune in any day on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform and find Mark live.

Mark also reconnected with his love of music. One day, a drummer who played the cajon with Mark  wasn’t able to make a performance and a new path for Mark opened up. Mark decided to build a cajon to add percussion he could play himself, but he found immediately that the cajon was not designed for him. It was impossible to play his guitar at the same time. That’s when he had the spark  – the BeatSeat, a percussion drum he could play with his hands or his feet that also allows the player to sit comfortably.

The BeatSeat was Mark’s solution to a challenge for a musician – to have a percussion instrument and a comfortable seat. But one day a new opportunity presented itself when an autistic child who was visiting his home started playing with the BeatSeat. When the child’s parent saw her son laughing and interacting with the drum, she told Lara and Mark that they had created a new sensory therapy product.  Now, in addition to promoting The BeatSeat to musicians, Mark and Lara are taking the BeatSeat to the autistic community. 

“You have to be open to opportunities when they present themselves,” says Mark.  “You never know when that connection will come. You have to be aware of your moments and be ready to go when you see something scalable.”

Lara Ceccarelli

Mark could have stayed comfortable with real estate and playing a little music on the side, but instead, he’s on a fascinating journey to sell BeatSeats with his wife Lara while inspiring the world on “Real Talk.”

As Mark says, “You don’t know if your spark of an idea will become a fire unless you develop it and put it out there. All I started out to do was to put on ‘full band experience’ all by myself without hiring a drummer. Exploring my spark led me to build the first drum for guitarists. Now the BeatSeat is potentially one of the most powerful sensory drums in existence.  We had to trust our intuition and drive forward to an imaginary finish line in our minds. Forget the word ‘quit’ and learn to appreciate the word ‘no’. Every ‘no’ is valuable information for you as a founder. “

To learn about the BeatSeat, visit To meet Mark and Lara in person, join us this Thursday, November 21 at the Cos Cob library at 6:30pm. Sign up at And check out our conversation with Mark on his podcast, RealTalk, here.

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

You Will Never Have the Perfect Roadmap

“You will never have the perfect roadmap to bring your idea to reality.”

Tiago Souza and Felipe Marinho, co-founders, Soulphia

Tiago Souza and Felipe Marinho are both from Sao Paulo, Brazil where Tiago worked in the pharmaceutical industry and Felipe worked for Shell Oil.  But both were entrepreneurs at heart.  When not working his day job, Felipe was managing a vibrant restaurant he owned.  And Tiago left his job at an analytics firm to launch an app designed to bring cheaper medical care to low income patients.  

Felipe Marinho

So when Felipe and Tiago left Brazil and followed their wives to the United States, even though they didn’t know each other, they already had a lot in common. And when they finally met each other through a mutual friend, the seeds for a potential partnership were already planted.

Their business, Soulphia, sprang from their experience of volunteering together at a homeless shelter in Hoboken where they made and served dinner to over 200 people. Later that evening over their own dinner, they talked about their experience – how they both felt exhilarated yet frustrated that they hadn’t significantly changed the lives of the people they had served that night. That night, Soulphia, a company that trains homeless shelter residents in the US  to teach conversational English online to people worldwide, was born on the back of a napkin.

Tiago Souza

Both Felipe and Tiago were committed to founding a company with a strong social mission, but it was initially unclear how their idea would translate to reality.  “When we first started out, we had no idea how big our business could ultimately be,” says Tiago.  “We just knew we wanted to change people’s lives for the positive.”  

“And we knew we couldn’t wait until we had the perfect plan or we would never have gotten started.” adds Felipe.

Felipe and Tiago began working their networks to find the people they needed to help them bring their idea to market. But they also knew that once they launched their initial concept, they needed to listen to their customers to ensure success.

Originally, Soulphia focused on selling one-on-one classes to individuals looking to improve their English skills. But they quickly learned that people preferred to learn in a group setting. And they found that the subscription model was more effective than selling single classes.

They also found other market opportunities for their unique mission focused educational product.  Soulphia expanded into the B2B market after Brazilian businesses reached out to them to train their employees in English. And, because their business model also includes the social mission of giving shelter residents transferable skills to help them move to financial stability, Soulphia is now partnering with local governments, recently signing an agreement with Jersey City, NJ to train shelter residents in the community.

“The secret to our success? Test, learn and adapt,” says Felipe. Tiago echos that sentiment, “You have to try an idea in the marketplace, get feedback and then adapt, adapt, adapt.”

Their words of advice to future founders? You will never have the perfect roadmap when you start out so begin with a simple business idea and strategy, work hard, and always listen to the customer.

Now that they have more than 1,300 students in 15 different countries and 50 tutors trained to give online classes, Felipe and Tiago are now looking for investors and B2B partnerships here in the US. To learn more about Soulphia, go to

Come hear Soulphia partners live at upcoming Stage2Startups events!  On November 21 in Greenwich, Ct. Soulphia partner, Rafael Borja, will talk about how he is helping Soulphia plan for it next round of funding.  And on November 26 in NYC, hear Felipe give his one minute funding pitch to a panel of investors.  Register here for these Stage2Startups exciting events.

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

What Will You Do With Your Extra Years?

“With our new longevity, it’s time to measure age in future potential as opposed to just a chronology of years lived.”

Sergei Scherbov, PhD, Director of Demographic Analysis, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID, WU), Deputy Director, World Population Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

UN International Day of Older Persons

We were thrilled to attend the 29th Anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons on October 10th. The day was filled with insights and information from numerous experts in the field of ageing. Here are some of the things we heard –

Projected Life Expectancies

Turning 65 is not an ending but a beginning. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs calculates that the proportion of adult life spent beyond age 65 increased from less than a fifth in the 1960s to a quarter or more in most developed countries today. That means that a person aged 65 can expect to live an additional 19 years by 2045. And people are not only living longer lives, they are living healthier ones. As a result, as Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott state in their book, The 100 Year Life, people need to adapt to living a longer life.

With longer healthier lives, older people have more opportunities. The traditional approach of retiring from a career at age 65 must be rethought. Paul Ladd, Director of the UN Research Institute for Social Development, points out that the world is divided into two types of people – the old and the future old. Regardless of which group you are in, you must adopt a life-course approach where the milestones of education, career and retirement can happen at any point in the span of your chronological life.

With age comes wisdom and success. Elizabeth Isele, founder and CEO at The Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship, argues that in today’s global economy, experience is a competitive advantage. She points out that the highest rate of entrepreneurship worldwide has shifted to the 55-64 age group.  And five years after startup, 70% of ventures established by 50+ entrepreneurs are still in operation compared to just 28% of enterprises launched by younger entrepreneurs.

Bottom line?  There is no better time to take your own personal leap of faith and follow your entrepreneurial dream.  Get inspired!  You can meet fellow grownup founders and learn about their journeys at a Stage2Startups event.  Find an upcoming event here.

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong

Leave Your Comfort Zone for New Opportunities

New adventures can lead to business opportunities” 

Joyce Slayton-Mitchell – Global College Admissions Consultant & Author

When you’re in your 70s, no matter how much you like your life, sometimes you want to change it up a bit and learn something new. Joyce Slayton Mitchell was the Director of college advisement at one of New York’s most prestigious girls’ day schools. She liked traveling to Paris for spring breaks (wrote a book about Paris pastry shops), spent summers in her Vermont hometown, and always spent the year-end holidays with her children and grandchildren in New Zealand. 

Joyce Slayton-Mitchell

“I loved my life, but wanted to add to the adventure and try something totally different.  So I decided to go someplace that I knew nothing about. I bought a ticket for a place as far and different from NewYork City as possible –  Beijing. I was curious if I could find a way to support myself in China with my writing and U.S. college admissions expertise. I soon discovered a number of business opportunities.” While still at her NYC job, Joyce enrolled in a language class at the China Institute.  Language classes lasted two lessons. “What can I say? Memorizing phrases and writing Chinese characters 100 times every night just wasn’t for me.” 

Joyce soon traded language lessons for the Corporate division of the China Institute with seminars on their Stock Exchange, Real Estate, and print media. During those lectures, she met a number of Chinese newspaper people, including the China Daily, where she learned that they had a high school edition for the public schools of China.  She soon had the name of the editor and an appointment in Beijing for her next spring break. 

“I had a great meeting, even though I left without knowing if they wanted an advice column on U.S. College Admissions.  By the end of the summer, I learned that Yes! They would agree to give the College Advice column a try. With that credential in hand, I left for Beijing again at our next school holiday, Columbus Day Weekend.”

That weekend led Joyce to a meeting with the largest English-language education company in China- New Oriental – the first Chinese business accepted on the NY Stock Exchange.  Several weeks later, and back at her school job, she secured a book deal to write the first dual language Chinese/English American college admissions book, The Chinese Guide to American Universities

With book contract in hand, and China Daily’s newspaper column in print, she left her job in NYC and worked for a small Chinese company, who wanted an Amercian amongst them, to bring the U.S. AP Curriculum into the public schools.  Through perseverance, learning how her college counseling experience fit into the Chinese culture, and the fast growth of the Chinese economy, Mitchell has now been in China for 12 years. Today, Joyce is a recognized pioneer among college admissions deans and continues to work with young Chinese entrepreneurs in their U.S. college and school counseling businesses. Always aware of the market for what she has to offer, Ms. Mitchell followed the remarkable change of the China market from U.S. colleges to our boarding schools. She now spends 3 or 4 months in China, and during the rest of the academic year, counsels Chinese high school students across the US.

To learn more about Joyce’s latest book, Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know!, and other books written by Joyce, visit

Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong