Successfully walking away with a six-figure investment from a pitch competition is an entrepreneur's dream. Not only did University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) evening Master of Business Administration (MBA) student Nick Brown make this dream a reality, but he did so on his first try. With the help of his Co-Founder Uriel Berrum, the pair traveled to Stanford, California, for the Capital Plus Dolphin Tank Venture Competition, and walked away with a $100,000 equity commitment for ScholarLead.
Starting a Business
In 2016, Nick and Uriel came together with the goal of driving positive change in their community. To accomplish this, they founded Effct.org, a digital marketing consultancy that uses technology to help mission-based organizations better understand and reach their communities. To date, Effct.org has raised $700 million for education, climate change, and other issues with its partnerships.
Thanks to their tremendous success and Nick’s background in teaching, Nick and Uriel were asked to help with another societal problem: school enrollment. Over the year, school enrollment has continued to take more time and money while seeing a downturn in enrollment. To solve this problem, Nick and Uriel created ScholarLead, an easy-to-use web-based application that simplifies enrollment and tracks performance. Saving educators money and time while boosting enrollment.ScholarLead also helps educators set goals, visualize gaps, and increase conversion rates. Although they are just in their first year, they already serve 10 schools.
According to ScholarLead’s website, their vision is to “help schools enable scholars so they can pursue their dreams for the betterment of the world. Our software re-imagines enrollment for schools by improving their systems, saving them time and money, and ultimately freeing up the capacity to provide each scholar with the education they deserve.”
It is rare for companies to walk out of a pitch competition with funding on its first try, let alone six figures worth. Nick and Uriel placed 4th out of 50 teams and were able to get a $100,000 equity commitment from their program sponsor, Capital Plus Financial at the Capital Plus Dolphin Tank Venture Competition at Stanford.
In a press release highlighting their win, Uriel states that
“From the beginning of this fundraising effort, our largest goal was solidifying our first investment. This seed money will allow us to continue serving our schools and help us advance our mission.”
Nick expands on this, stating
“This six-figure investment is a critical step in increasing ScholarLead's positive impact on schools, educators, students, families and communities.”
Nick Brown gives the following three points of advice for students looking to start a pitch-worthy company.
“The first is to find a great business partner. My Co-founder, Uriel Berrum, has been instrumental to our success as a company. We wouldn't be where we are without Uriel.”
He also adds that you need to
"Build an outstanding team. We are very blessed to have a very smart and hard working team that includes two recent CU graduates. Our team has been the critical piece in getting us to where we are today.
Second, if you can get a job or an internship within the industry you want to work in, then do it. I believe that if I had interned at a marketing agency, we could have grown the agency faster. My experience as a teacher and then interning at an ed tech company have been important for helping us realize our goals.
Third, is to just do it. The biggest risk is not taking one.”
Nick Brown and Uriel Berrum are two strong entrepreneurs who have made and will continue to make an impressive difference in the academic community. Follow their journey by checking out their Linkedin.