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Christopher Gray

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Profile

Christopher Gray just graduated from Drexel University in 2015, but he’s already making a huge name for himself through his startup Scholly, a comprehensive scholarship search platform that landed him on Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2016.

Gray was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama to a single mom and two younger siblings. While in high school, he started his first organization, Genesis, which was geared toward helping students get volunteer opportunities. See, even in high school, he was making good on his ideas for social enterprise.

High school is actually where he came up with the idea for Scholly. Living in what he called an underserved Alabama community, Gray found himself constantly frustrated with the tools available to him to find scholarships. He spent hours searching through sites like FastWeb and Scholarships.com to find potential scholarship matches, all while workng from the computers in the local libraries. Because it took way too long to even find scholarships to apply for, Gray would find himself at home writing out his scholarship essays and then on his cell phone typing them into the scholarship application fields.

So while he was at Drexel, he worked on Scholly, which streamlines scholarship application processes. His passion for helping students avoid what he experienced helped him when he appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2015 and landed a $40,000 deal. Right now, Scholly only matches students with privately funded scholarships, but Gray hopes to one day include public university scholarships in the database, too. As of February, Scholly had 600,000 users and over $20 million in funding.

Sources: The Huffington Post, USA TODAY College, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes

Companies and Investments

Scholly (founder, CEO)

Dorm Room Fund (founding partner); Venturenary (former co-founder and CEO); World Change Coalition (former founder and CEO); Golden Bridge Ventures LLC (former founder and president):Tweens and Teens Entertainment Company (former CEO)

Lessons Learned

Starting a company in college has both its advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that you are in college and with entrepreneurship at the top of everyone’s minds, you have access to mentors and a lot of free capital through competitions. Between Drexel and other competitions, I won around $130,000 dollars for Scholly. Similar to scholarships, I became pretty good at raising “free money” for Scholly. Also, as a student you have access to a variety of mentors and programs that can assist you in starting and growing your company.

Inspiring Quotes

The most common trait in aspiring entrepreneurs is passion. If you are not making money, you need passion to get you through those sleepless nights. You have to want to solve an issue that you truly believe in.

Jason Saltzman

Christopher Gray's Quotes

Seeing people not get the education that they worked for and deserve because they cant afford it is something I cant stand for.

Christopher Gray

To make any money, you have to be right when they’re wrong.

Christopher Gray

Influential Books

Thomas J. Stanley - The Millionaire Mind

William Shakespeare - Hamlet ( Folger Library Shakespeare)

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

John Milton - Paradise Lost (Norton Critical Editions)

Mentors

Jason Saltzman, Iris Elba

References


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