Demetrius Curry has spent the final couple years chasing a dream.
His startup, College Cash, permits manufacturers to petition customers to create picture and video advertising content material highlighting their services or products, with the wrinkle being that content material creators are paid by the manufacturers within the type of credit that go immediately towards paying down their pupil mortgage debt. This mannequin awards the manufacturers concerned a stage of social good will and tax advantages.
The Dallas-area founder was impressed to sort out the scholar mortgage debt disaster after speaking along with his daughter concerning the prospect of ultimately paying down her personal mortgage debt. Curry has spent the previous two years constructing out the nascent platform, monitoring down model companions, navigating accelerator applications, attractive customers and pounding the pavement to search out traders prepared to guess on his imaginative and prescient.
College Cash has raised $105,000 up to now, and is hoping to ultimately wrap the funding right into a $1 million seed spherical.
Filling out the spherical has been its personal problem for Curry, who has struggled at instances to search out alternative, even amongst historic ranges of capital flowing into the startup ecosystem, a distinction that has been much less noticeable for black founders that also make up only a small proportion of VC allocation. In the aftermath of final summer season’s protests towards police brutality, plenty of enterprise capital companies issued statements decrying institutional racism and pledging to again extra underserved founders, spinning up new applications for numerous founders.
While Curry says he appreciates the scope of the issue and the nice intentions of these making the statements, he believes that enterprise capital networks nonetheless have rather a lot to study what being an “underserved” founder means, and that loads of the prevailing efforts really feel like “lip service.” He says that whilst Silicon Valley continues to idolize dropouts from prestigious universities, stakeholders have much less curiosity in recognizing the accomplishments of founders who fought their approach via poverty or discovered alternative in geographies the place alternatives are tougher to come back by.
“You can’t search for one thing completely different when you’re trying in the identical locations,” Curry tells TechCrunch. “When you have a look at the subject of ‘underserved founders,’ it’s not solely a pores and skin colour factor, it’s additionally about the place they got here from and what they’ve been via.”
Curry says that it may be irritating to compete for early-stage alternatives when traders aren’t prepared to meaningfully regulate their parameters. Of specific frustration to Curry has been navigating the world of “heat introductions” to even get a foot within the door for applications meant for numerous founders, or making use of for early-stage applications geared towards the “underserved” solely to be informed that they weren’t far sufficient alongside to qualify.
“Think about how a lot we needed to undergo to even get within the room with you,” Curry says. “I’ve offered plasma to pay a hosting payment, nothing goes to cease me.”
College Cash’s mission of increasing alternatives for folks struggling to handle their pupil mortgage debt is private to Curry, who noticed his life flip round after going again to highschool.
Decades in the past, contemporary out of the army, Curry stated he had a random dialog with a stranger whereas consuming at a Hardee’s — the dialogue about what extra he wished from life ended up pushing him to to return and get his GED and later a enterprise diploma. What adopted was a profession in finance that ultimately led towards his latest entrepreneurial pursuits with College Cash.
The platform is firmly an early-stage enterprise in the mean time, however Curry has large ambitions he’s constructing towards. His subsequent effort is constructing out a College Cash tipping integration with gig financial system platforms, with the goal that customers of these platforms might finally choose to tip a employee and route that cash immediately towards paying down that individual’s pupil mortgage debt.
Curry says the staff at College Cash has been working with a “nationwide gig financial system platform” to run a pilot of the mixing and has run focus teams displaying that customers usually tend to tip once they know that cash goes towards erasing mortgage debt.