Dallas area resident, Demetrius Curry has spent the last couple years chasing a dream where students become able to pay back their student loans.
What the start-up is all about
His startup, known as College Cash, brings together big brands looking for young content creators and students who can create photo and video marketing content highlighting the company’s product or service. The catch is, the content creators are paid in the form of credits that go directly towards paying down their student loans. This business model awards social goodwill points as well as tax benefits to the brands involved.
From a father to a businessman helping many kids
Curry’s inspiration was a talk with his daughter about the prospect of eventually paying down her own loan debt. For the past two years, Curry has been working tirelessly towards building the nascent platform, tracking down brand partners, navigating accelerator programs, enticing users, and paving ways to find investors.
To date, College Cash has raised $105,000, and is aiming to eventually wrap the funding into a $1 million seed round.
Curry’s experience while building the start-up
Even among historic levels of capital flowing into the start-up ecosystem, filling out the round has been its own challenge for Curry, who has struggled at times to find opportunity, a distinction that has been less noticeable for black founders that still make up just a small percentage of VC allocation. In the aftermath of last summer’s protests against police brutality, a number of venture capital firms issued statements decrying institutional racism and pledging to back more underserved founders, spinning up new programs for diverse founders.
venture capital networks still have a lot to learn about what being an “underserved” founder means, and that plenty of the existing efforts feel like “lip service”.Curry
He said that stakeholders have less interest in recognizing the accomplishments of founders who fought their way through poverty or found opportunity in geographies where opportunities are harder to come by, as Silicon Valley continues to idolize dropouts from prestigious universities,
You can’t look for something different if you’re looking in the same places. When you look at the topic of ‘underserved founders,’ it’s not only a skin color thing, it’s also about where they came from and what they’ve been through.Curry
Curry says that it can be frustrating to compete for early-stage opportunities when investors aren’t willing to meaningfully adjust their parameters. Of particular frustration to Curry has been navigating the world of “warm introductions” to even get a foot in the door for programs meant for diverse founders, or applying for early-stage programs geared toward the “underserved” only to be told that they weren’t far enough along to qualify.
Think about how much we had to go through to even get in the room with you. I’ve sold plasma to pay a web hosting fee, nothing is going to stop me.Curry
The mission of College Cash is very personal to Curry, who saw his life turn around after going back to school.
One moment is enough to change your whole life and find your purpose
Curry, who decades ago was fresh out of military, saw his course of life changing after having a random conversation with a stranger while eating at Hardee’s— the discussion was about what more he wanted from life which ended up pushing him to go back to school and get his GED and later a business degree. What followed was a career in finance that eventually led toward his recent entrepreneurial pursuits with College Cash.
The platform right now is firmly an early-stage venture at the moment, but Curry is fully motivated and is building towards his big ambitions. His next effort is building out a College Cash tipping integration with gig economy platforms, with the aim that users of those platforms could ultimately opt to tip a worker and route that money directly toward paying down that person’s student loan debt. The team is working with a “national gig economy platform” to run the first stage of integration which is focusing on users who are likely to tip after knowing the purpose of the platform.