A millennial ‘Shark Tank’ entrepreneur who coaches teens for the SAT says adults don’t realize what sets Gen Z apart

Shaan Patel

  • Generation Z, the generation born after 1997, differs from millennials when it comes to how they use social media.
  • Shaan Patel, the founder of SAT tutoring company Prep Expert, said adults don’t realize how Generation Z is able to balance its use of technology and social media.
  • Teenagers today are also more eager to become entrepreneurs than the previous generation, Patel said.


Today’s teenagers are often accused of being obsessed with social media.

But one entrepreneur who works with them says adults aren’t seeing the full picture.

Shaan Patel, the founder of the SAT tutoring company Prep Expert, has worked with thousands of high schoolers through his mix of live and online video courses since 2011.

In seven years, Patel’s customers have gone from the oldest of the millennial generation to the youngest members of Generation Z, defined as those born after 1997.

Although there’s no questioning Generation Z’s prolific use of social media, Patel said teens today are better than adults at knowing when to put the phone aside.

“My worry has always been that you become very distracted with social media,” Patel told Business Insider. “I think Generation Z, at least the students taking our courses, have learned how to balance that maybe better than adults, like social media addiction and things like that. They are so focused on these tests, they are able to learn online and they don’t get distracted.”

“They are really, really savvy about when to use technology and when to not, and I don’t think we give them enough credit for that.”

Another big difference Patel noticed between his older and younger students was in their prospective career choices. Today’s high schoolers, he said, take their inspiration from entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, not to mention shows like “Shark Tank” that reward entrepreneurs who build businesses from the ground up.

“Seven years ago, almost everyone wanted to become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, something like that. Today, entrepreneurs are becoming the rock stars of society,” Patel told Business Insider. 

“What’s really, really interesting to me is all these kids are learning coding, learning about technology, they want to start their own companies, they want to become an entrepreneur.”

On that front, Patel can relate to his Generation Z students. He’s an entrepreneur himself, of course, and he even went on a 2016 episode of “Shark Tank” to pitch Prep Expert, earning a $250,000 deal from Mark Cuban. 

Patel’s experience getting his company off the ground helps him relate to his Generation Z students, he said.

“As a millennial, I was never encouraged to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path growing up,” he said.

And his No. 1 piece of advice for the younger students he tutors? No matter what the examples of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates suggest, don’t drop out of college.

“They are the exception, not the rule. I tell kids to continue to work on their business while pursuing their education,” he said.

Not only did Patel stay in school, he recently earned both an MBA and a medical degree, and makes time for his business while he does his dermatology residency at Temple University.

“Generation Z student entrepreneurs are primed for success if they stay in school as they launch their businesses.”

SEE ALSO: A ‘Shark Tank’ entrepreneur practiced his answer to the question he knew the Sharks would ask, but he bombed it anyway — and still landed a $250,000 deal

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