Carl Dorvil (PMBA ’08)
Turning Learning into Business
Carl Dorvil grew up in Garland, Texas, the son of Haitian immigrants who instilled in their children the importance of education at an early age. "I remember my late grandmother telling me that your wife might divorce you, but your diploma never will," said Dorvil.
Dorvil never took his education for granted. He attended Garland Christian Academy (GCA) where he earned the nickname "Superman" due to the many activities in which he participated, all while maintaining a high GPA. He graduated from GCA as the first black class president and first black Salutatorian. The nickname followed Dorvil to SMU where he ran for first-year class president as Carl "Superman" Dorvil. He was elected to the position, and then began the challenge of living up to the nickname.
During Dorvil's first year at SMU, he balanced four jobs as a legal assistant intern, calculus teacher's associate, psychology research assistant and tutor at a learning enhancement center. Throughout his undergraduate career, Dorvil continued to work multiple jobs while earning honors and awards such as the Mortar Board Top Ten Sophomore Award. He also gained acceptance into the SMU Psychological Distinction Program, and earned the Outstanding Minority Student Award. Dorvil graduated with a triple major in economics, public policy and psychology - and a 3.75 GPA.
During his junior year a book changed the course of Dorvil's life. His best friend and future business partner, Ben Bhatti (SMU '03), encouraged Dorvil to read the book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' by Robert Kiyosaki. It was then that Dorvil felt challenged to start a business. He started Group Excellence (GE) out of his dorm room.
Since then, GE has grown from a small, one-man show into a nearly 300-person operation, with offices in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth. Today, GE serves over 5,000 students throughout the state and has partnered with the United Way, Texas Instruments Foundation, Heart of a Warrior Foundation and Princeton Review Foundation.
GE is a Texas-certified Supplemental Education Service Provider offering free tutoring for students in low-performing, economically disadvantaged areas. Students who attend GE's after school programs are provided food at each session, as well as incentives and rewards to promote positive reinforcement. Private tutoring, college prep workshops and athletic programs are also available.
As Dorvil was starting to grow the business, one of his first clients was the son of Phil Romano - creator of restaurants such as Romano's Macaroni Grill and Fuddruckers. After hearing about GE, Romano recommended that Dorvil attend SMU's Cox School of Business, where he serves on the Executive Board.
"I took Mr. Romano's advice and, after getting married in November 2005 to my beautiful wife Kara, I began the Cox PMBA program in January 2006," said Dorvil.
Once enrolled in business school, Dorvil began outlining GE's growth strategy.
"I turned in a revenue projection for our company as part of our first assignment. and my professor said if it was possible I should leave business school for a semester and try to start my company. So I did, and the rest was history," said Dorvil "The knowledge that I gained from business school propelled GE into becoming one of the most respected tutoring companies under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act."
Group Excellence has provided more hours of tutoring under the NCLB program than any other company in the history of Texas. Since graduating from Cox in May of 2008, Group Excellence has continued to thrive. From the time Dorvil started business school in 2005 until December 2007, GE's revenue grew approximately 4,229%. He credits the strategies he learned at Cox for much of this success.
"The investment in SMU and the Cox business school is well worth the price, and I have personally seen it pay dividends," said Dorvil. "GE will continue to grow, while motivating and inspiring students to achieve excellence in academics through mentoring and tutoring services."
Dorvil's next step is to develop a management system that can work nationwide. He has also partnered with his former SMU roommate, Ben Goerz (BBA '06), to start an interactive online tutoring business called SureStudy, LLC., which specializes in e-learning systems for K-12 education. In addition, he is working with his Executive Director, Matt Houston (SMU '06) to create a long term partnership with The Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.
"Tutoring turned from something I liked to do into my passion, and it was because of the help I received along the way that I felt the need to give back," he said. "But at the end of the day, what we strive to do best is motivate students. We don't believe we are a tutoring company that mentors, we believe we are a mentoring company that tutors and that has makes all the difference."