Neil Parsont

CEO of Zero Cheating

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Neil Parsont moved to Florida with his family when he was twelve years old. After graduating from high school, he attended Florida Atlantic University (FAU) where he received both his undergraduate degree in Finance in 2008, and his MBA in 2016.

Since entering the professional world, Neil Parsont has been a prolific entrepreneur. He is currently in the midst of launching Zero Cheating, an online exam proctoring company with patent-pending hardware and software solutions designed to prevent all forms of academic fraud. One of his earlier ventures, Cram Tutoring, is a successful tutoring business offering instruction for business and math students from middle school through graduate level.

Neil Parsont is also the CEO of 6-Pack Macros, a firm that creates custom fitness plans, including workouts and nutrition programs. The company recently launched a mobile application met with tremendous reviews from users. Neil is also involved with 6-Pack Crypto, a cryptocurrency incubator hedge fund based on fundamental investment strategies.

Among his many business accomplishments, Neil is most proud of helping thousands of students graduate from Florida Atlantic University and gain acceptance to other schools through the services provided by his academically focused companies. Additionally, he has worked with several startups to form successful business plans, one of which was in the top eight of the FAU Business Plan competition. Neil also raised half a million dollars in capital funding for his own businesses.

Today, Neil Parsont still resides in Florida. When not hard at work, he enjoys chess, tennis, and golf. When he was younger, Neil played tennis competitively and won a few local tennis tournaments. He also once hit a hole-in-one at the Red Reef Golf Course in Boca Raton, Florida, an accomplishment for which he received an official certificate.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I was part of a large group chat of FAU students who decided to kick me out of the chat so they could cheat. Using secondary accounts, I saw students sharing the entire exam, and I decided this dishonesty needed to be stopped. Armed with years of firsthand knowledge of how students circumvent existing proctoring services and cheat, I knew exactly how to prevent it going forward.

It’s a patent-pending software and hardware system that prevents all forms of cheating within online exam environments. Creating the business was my way of making a difference. I’ve been a tutor for about a decade and a half, and in that time, I’ve seen every way that students cheat. Unfortunately, the practice has grown exponentially since the onset of the digital era—and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread adoption of distance learning. Academic fraud devalues degrees, which isn’t fair to the students that actually put in the time and effort to learn the material. A lot of universities are continuing to use lecture capture online exams, but the current system is highly flawed. I’ve seen a group chat where over 75 students shared screenshots of an entire exam. Once I saw that and realized all the other ways that students can cheat, I was motivated to create this system. Simply put, it prevents all manner of academic fraud without violating the privacy of students.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up around 5:30am to pray and meditate with a sunrise view centering my mind on God and helping others. I swim for 30 minutes and then head to the gym where I work out for an hour. After taking care of my mind, spirit, and body, I head into my office. I’ll work from 11 am to around 5 pm, focusing predominantly on tutoring while making time for my other businesses. After work, I like to relax by playing chess, eating dinner with friends, or other social activities.

Regarding Zero Cheating, it’s in the development phase, right now. I currently have a company building both the underlying software and the prototype, and I’m also working with someone that’s finalizing the business plan. Day-to-day, it’s just a matter of trying to source and put together materials for pitching to an investor. I’m talking to some lawyers to set up a regulation CF to crowdfund on WeFunder, and that will probably launch in the next two months.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Immediate action. Once I have an idea, I find a way to make it concrete and implement it. For example, when I realized the extent of cheating and formulated a solution, I immediately contacted a patent attorney. Once the non-provisional patents were filed, I began the process of writing a business plan with a partner and sourcing a technology provider. As of now, the camera and software are being built, the fundraising is started, and testing is scheduled for Spring Semester 2023.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Health and fitness. We’re seeing more and more people valuing their health and wanting to get into good shape, and I’m excited about this trend. A healthier general population is a panacea; there is no downside to it.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I don’t hit the snooze button. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I get up without hesitation, write down my specific tasks for the day as a to-do list, and check off the items as I accomplish them.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Listen to older people. Their experience and perspective are invaluable.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

You can lose weight without necessarily being in a calorie deficit if you understand how your metabolism and hormones work. I’ve done it before. I’ve looked at how much I’ve eaten versus how many calories I’ve burned that day and lost weight, and I have a good idea why.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I constantly bounce my ideas off of people who have previous experience in a similar field. Any time I have an idea, I check in to get the opinions of someone who’s already been through the process and come out the other end successfully.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Focusing on what the consumer wants. By asking and constantly testing what the consumer wants, I know what features and services to develop, which areas to market, and where demand is.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One company I created early in my career was called Owl Tutors, and it was a platform for tutors to list their services and find clients. With this model, the tutors would pay a membership and a per lead fee, but they would keep all the money they made with the client. The failure I encountered was not listening to the tutors who were using the platform. My marketing team interviewed all the tutors and the tutors constantly said all they wanted was access to students. Getting students was very costly and difficult, so I focused on providing other services a businessperson running a tutoring company would want. These included a scheduling system, payment process, and marketing materials including posters and business cards. However, none of these items directly made tutors money so they were not interested. Instead of switching the revenue model to splitting the revenue with the tutor, I stubbornly stuck to my original plan. By the time I accepted my business model was not viable from the tutor’s perspective, it was too late, and the company’s cash had run dry leading to a bankruptcy. I’d love to say I overcame the failure, but in reality, I learned a valuable lesson—provide only products and services the consumer is willing to pay for. Had I focused on the consumer’s (tutor’s) willingness to pay, Owl Tutors would be in business today.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Look for any changes over the past year or so in how people are behaving and what they’re consuming, then figure out how to cater to those trends. After finding a suitable niche, consider what consumers are willing to pay for. Focus on the source of the demand and build a business around it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

On Sunday, I had a date. It was my first date with someone who could be my future wife. Suffice it to say, we got along great and really connected. Looking at it from that perspective, it might be the best $100 spent in my entire life.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Acuity Scheduling. I schedule all my clients using this service. It takes care of billing, gives reminders about appointments, and keeps me organized. It also syncs up well with my Google Calendar, so I know exactly who I’m tutoring and what subject I’m tutoring them in, and it enables me to bill and charge them. It also sends text and email reminders to clients.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I recommend this book to everyone because it teaches you to genuinely listen to people. It teaches you to understand what they think from their perspective. It helps in the development of relationships because you learn how to be less self-centered in conversations and not just talk about what you want to talk about.

What is your favorite quote?

“No one ever won a game by resigning.” — French chess Grandmaster Savielly Tartakower.

Key Learnings:

  • Listen to the wisdom and experience of older people.
  • Take immediate action when a business idea comes to mind.
  • When building a business, always listen to what the customer wants and is willing to pay for. Then focus on providing those services or products.