The CEO of a $60 million startup never got an MBA or worked in the corporate world — but he says he had something more important

  • Student Loan Hero, a financial planning company, was acquired by LendingTree last week for $60 million.
  • CEO Andy Josuweit managed to turn his startup into a success despite not having an MBA or experience in the corporate world.
  • Josuweit managed to both get his startup off the ground and pay off more than $100,000 in student-loan debt by putting in long hours and making personal sacrifices.

It takes hard work, patience, and a willingness to make sacrifices to pay off more than $100,000 in student-loan debt.

As Andy Josuweit learned, it takes the same three qualities to get a startup off the ground.

Josuweit sold his company, the financial-advice site Student Loan Hero, to LendingTree for $60 million last week, two years after he paid off the last of his $107,000 in student-loan debt.

The CEO recently spoke with Business Insider and explained how he was able to overcome a lack of business experience to find success.

“I didn’t consider myself the smartest guy in the room. I didn’t really do well in school,” Josuweit told Business Insider. “But one of my best attributes is I’m willing to work hard and keep showing up day after day, and that’s the most important thing to success as an entrepreneur.”

Josuweit founded Student Loan Hero in 2012 with funds from the incubator program Startup Chile, after dramatically changing the idea for his business after the program had already begun.

Under immense pressure to succeed from his parents, who were on the hook for some of his debt, Josuweit made a number of sacrifices: He worked 14-hour days, he biked everywhere instead of owning a car, and he even moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, so he could pay less in taxes and living expenses.

Josuweit made his final loan payment in September 2016, and preaches financial education on his site every day. Student Loan Hero offers financial comparison tools and personalized advice on paying off debt, and the company claims it’s helped wipe out more than $1 billion in student debt.

Josuweit never earned an MBA. He compared his rise in the startup world to his wrestling career in high school, when he went from a “pretty terrible” athlete to a district champion, and even went on to coach the University of Texas wrestling team.

“I view business as the same path. You’re going to fall on your face a few times, you’re going to screw up and fail. You’re going to learn from the failures. It takes time,” Josuweit told Business Insider. “But if you are willing, have the determination, have the grit, ultimately it’s inevitable you will succeed.”

He added that many entrepreneurs are too eager to give up when they don’t see results – even if they might be on the cusp of a breakthrough.

“I think a lot of people don’t want to put in the time or they don’t realize they’re that close when you’re just about to be successful,” he said. “You can’t see it, you can’t see the future, and a lot of people give up before they take off.”

“If you really want to do it, run your company and do your own thing, you’ve got to put in the time.”