Try Prattein


The Story.

Who we are, why we started, and how we view the future.




Hi, I'm Tyler Williams, and I'd like to share my story with you.


I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, where everyone sort of did their work and lived their lives. All told, it was pretty normal stuff.


As for me? Well — growing up, I was always a bit of a troublemaker. A misfit.


In fact, that's really where my story begins.


One Word. 


It's "Meet The Team Night." This was the night where all the teams that were in-season would group together, and one-by-one, your name would be introduced in front of your family, friends, and significant others.


"Varsity Lacrosse, Tyler Williams" — this combination never got called.


Twelve years ago, I was kicked off the varsity lacrosse team. Thirty minutes before we met to be introduced — I was summoned into the coaches' office, where I was told that I was "uncoachable."


Uncoachable? I didn’t even know what this word meant, but it just — stuck.


That night, I told myself — from that point forward — I would do everything I could to learn, to grow, and to be as coachable as possible.


And that's exactly what I did. The following year — I was a player-voted Team Captain.


Over the next six years, I would actually coach side-by-side with that very same man — a great friend to this day — who once kicked me off his team. I was blind, but he helped me see.


That's me on the right. Torrential downpour to go to States.


One Epiphany.


There I was, during my senior year of college in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, when I had an epiphany of sorts.


I found delight in teaching and mentoring other students in some of the more difficult courses — supply chain management, corporate accounting and finance, marketing metrics and even information systems.


...all for a little spending cash, of course.


Doing this class after class gave me a thought. I was sitting in class, thinking to myself, and I wondered — Why was this? Why was learning so difficult? Why would someone pay a hundred grand to sit in a classroom and hate it?


And then came the most puzzling part. I distinctly remember our professor going around the room and asking each of us what we planned to do upon graduation the following semester.


It absolutely blew my mind that nearly every single one of my peers — in the Entrepreneurship program, mind you —  had zero intention of starting a business one day.


One Survey.


Again, this was all very puzzling to me.


After all, I was pursuing an education — not a degree — with every intention of starting my own company one day.


So, I ran a beta test. I emailed everyone I knew — my classmates and friends at other schools — and asked if they would fill out a simple, three-question survey for me:


The survey.


I got about 200 responses. The results? Startling.


The most common word in their responses of how my peers viewed college? Scam.


The average debt load? About 70K.


The debt load.


The most common response in major-career correlation? No.


The correlation.


One Company.


It became clear to me that no one seemed to have the remotest notion of the future that technology will play in education, or in business. And yet all the while, we have been on the edge of the next great leap in technological advancements. All of the energy, money, and pressure had been funneled into keeping the idea of an outdated, traditional academia alive. So long as the idea is still alive, it will remain.


But I have a different idea.

Nine credits short (a gym, a lab science, and a non-major elective), I made the decision to drop out of college — and I started the brainwork for my first company.


Back office of my dad's shop. Where it all started.


My ambition to build the best learning product in the world led me to plan this company, TZERO. In planning, I came upon two surprising developments.


The most surprising development was in the large attention given to finance, and the small attention given to the actual product or service. That seemed, to me, to be reversing the very natural process that money should come as a result of work, and not before the work. I have no problem building for a very long time without making a single dollar. I don’t believe others think in these terms.


With regard to money — Money is only a tool in business. It is merely a part of the machine. If you think you need more money to grow, you deafly misunderstand the principles that surround product architecture. If you are trying to grow a company, more stuff won’t cure it. Neither will more money. A business which misuses what it has will continue to misuse what it can get.


There is always a price to pay for a product no matter the economic developments at play. And the best way to reduce prices is to eliminate waste. In my company, for instance, adding more product features won’t cure it. Only heavier doses of first principles thinking can cure it. By this method we will always survive.


The difference.


The second surprising development was in the general indifference to better methods of education, as long as whatever was done got them by and took in money. So, traditional academia is sitting there saying, “Look, we're making money selling degrees for $80K, $100K, in some instances well over $200K.“ In turn, their thought process becomes, “What seems to be the problem? This is great! We’re making a ton of money!


This is not what I would call a net future positive.


This product — a degree — has gone backward in that it isn’t designed for how greatly it could serve the public, but with reference solely for how much money could be had for it. And that, without any particular care, whether the customer was satisfied.


To academia, to sell the customer was enough.


One Solution.


As a result, two important principles became clear to me for how I wanted to build, both in terms of products and the company as a whole: (1) serve others, and (2) be a catalyst for change.


Serving others is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require much writing.

More to the second principle — the most beautiful things in the world are those from which excess waste has been eliminated. I think this is a good measuring stick for change. I am constantly looking for ways to make our products more interesting, while at the same time, more clean and more efficientI loathe the waste of traditional academia.


In other words  teach me what I should learn, how to apply it, and throw away the rest.


Click "The Roadmap" to see how we’ll do it: 

The Roadmap

TZERO is Education: Reimagined.