Fort Worth Founder Aims to Help People Cope With Debt Through Content Creation » Dallas Innovates
In his own lifetime, Demetrius Curry saw the impact going to college could have on someone. But he also saw the obstacles to this opportunity that many face. So he formed a company to make college education more accessible.
Fort Worth-based College Cash, a content creation platform that helps users pay off student loan debt, is in tears after its official launch last year. And as he nears the end of a seed funding round, Curry is looking to broaden the platform’s focus by helping people pay off debt from a number of costly life stages. , while making these steps more accessible for everyone.
“Basically, we set out to change the way people view debt as a whole,” Curry told Dallas Innovates. “Whatever worries you that you know will hit you later, we allow you to start planning and working to compensate before you even start high school. It’s like a feeling of relief and it allows you to do so many things differently.
Earning money through content creation
Here’s how it works: Brands partner with College Cash, which develops a social campaign for the brand. Platform users can then join this campaign by creating video and photo content, for which they are compensated in the form of repayment of their student loan debt. For example, a sports team might create a campaign inviting users to post their favorite game photo.
Focusing on impact in users’ lives, Curry said the idea is to create campaigns that don’t require outside purchases. Companies get tax-deductible user-generated content — which Sprout Social calls the “bread and butter” of social media marketing — that can be used for their advertising and marketing campaigns. They also have the social impact to say they have helped pay off student loan debt for all College Cash users who have joined their campaign. During this time, users benefit from further debt reduction.
“These campaigns are hosted in our system. Once you post a photo, other users can’t see it,” Curry said. “It’s not about community; we are a curated source of authentic user-generated content.
$50 is the minimum threshold to join a campaign
Curry said $50 is the minimum threshold of what a user gets for joining a campaign. He added that someone joining the platform while still in high school has the potential to earn around $20,000 to $25,000 by the time of graduation, while someone who enrolls when starting college could earn between $10,000 and $15,000 by the end of their undergraduate career.
But it’s not just high school and college students who can register. People well beyond their academic career and well into their professional lives who are still repaying their student loans can also join the platform and participate in debt repayment campaigns, with no limit on how much they can earn.
“We’re really able to help anyone from 13 to 60,” Curry said.
Lean on the experience of the founder
The idea for College Cash grew out of Curry’s own experience. Calling himself “the non-traditional founder by default,” Curry was born in the South End neighborhood of Chicago. His high school years were spent in group homes, boys’ homes and homeless. Before graduating, he dropped out and joined the Marines. After his shift, he said he still found himself wandering. At that point, he decided to get his GED and go to college, which eventually led him to places like PNC Bank and Huntington Bank.
Because of that background, Curry says he has a long history of working with at-risk youth to help them succeed. In doing so, he realized that, for his part, student loan debt was a significant obstacle for many potential students, even to begin the college entrance process.
“I built something that I wanted to impact, something that matters, and that’s most people’s financial situation,” Curry said. “I would like to say that…we will be a central hub, connecting all of these organizations and all of these major forms of debt through day-to-day behavior. However, if no one knew who we were, but we benefited everyone , I would agree with that too.
Steady growth and a moment in the spotlight
As during Curry’s lifetime, College Cash is on a growth trajectory. He formed the company in 2019, finding traction with early investments through Overlooked Ventures and joining the portfolio of Capital Factory, which takes a 1% stake in his companies. College Cash was also one of the first investments of Impact Ventures’ Dallas Inclusive Capital Fund.
Meanwhile, College Cash was working on building the platform, which launched last year shortly after Curry received a call from TechCrunch to do an article on the company. In the article, Curry details early-stage founders of color struggles to find investors. However, he says this is becoming less of an issue for him as the article’s popularity increases. Curry says his company is just over a month away from closing a $1 million seed funding round. He added that over the past 12 months, the valuation of College Cash has nearly tripled.
“The more people hear about us, the more companies and brands want to work with us,” Curry said.
Going into debt in other significant forms
This year, College Cash began to expand beyond a solution for paying off student loan debt to what Curry calls an “alternative debt solution,” aimed at helping people with a number of major forms. of debt. After participating in Washington, D.C.’s Village Capital Accelerator Program in March, which provided College Cash with $10,000 in funding, the company began working with Accelerator Partner Freddie Mac to explore ways to use the platform to help people put money toward a mortgage down payment.
Curry said the company is also working with a credit union, which he was put in touch with after joining the inaugural FinTech | X Accelerator set up by Tampa Bay Wave and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business, to allow users to put cashback for paying debts. Curry said it came from winning the SXSW speed pitch in the social and cultural vertical this year.
He added that other plans allow users to put money into things like retirement and emergency savings accounts.
Curry teased other upcoming partnerships. And with new funding on the horizon, he said College Cash plans to bolster its team and technology in hopes of causing the greatest “ripple effect” to help people build better lives.
“It supports our mission because it uses everyday behavior where you don’t really need to buy anything, but it can affect all forms of debt you’re concerned about,” Curry said. “We used to say that we are a platform that uses everyday behavior to reduce student loan debt. But now we say we’re a platform that uses daily behavior to deal with major forms of debt before you even get it.
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