Chisa Egbelu, Baton Rouge native and my fellow Rutgers alumnus, took some time out of his busy schedule to break down the ins and outs of his quickly-budding company, PeduL, the future of college funding.
What is PeduL & how did it come to be?
PeduL is a platform where students raise money for college. We send the money from their campaigns to their universities in the form of a scholarship. PeduL was the result of a series of events and an honest conversation between myself and a friend in the Winkler Suites on Busch campus at Rutgers University. Above all, we just knew too many people that were dropping out or not pursuing their dreams, not because they got in trouble, or because their grades were bad, but simply because they couldn’t afford it and we wanted to do something about that. Some time passed after that conversation and I decided that we needed to create the platform that has come to be PeduL. I put together a team and we started meeting every Sunday for about 10-12 hours. That’s when we started writing our business plan, coding, and just brainstorming what we wanted the platform to be. We started Uber/Lyft driving to pay for the server fees and we picked up janitorial jobs to cover the incorporation costs. After a lot of disappointments, and even more blessings we were able to bring on investors and obtain the resources to not only launch the platform but set it up for some very exciting growth plans that we’re working on now.
That’s truly amazing! Tell us what it offers to students.
PeduL offers students a place to display themselves to their friends, family, and the public of all varying tiers of connections. It gives them a comfortable place to address an issue that is no longer unique or rare in our country, not being able to afford college.
How important is a crowdfunding platform like PeduL during our current political administration?
Everyone knows that older person that tells stories of how college was $400 a semester when they went to school. Obviously, those are no longer the days we’re living in. People often ask the question, why is college so expensive, and the clearest answer is that the government isn’t doing what they used to. And that is not a shot against the government, but it’s a blatant truth. In this country the people have always stepped up where the government hasn’t. PeduL is a vessel for the people to support one another and make their communities, cities, and world a smarter and more connected place.
From the current GOP Tax bill passed that taxes graduate students on their scholarships, to the practices of Betsy Devos, education affordability is not an interest to the current political figures in power, and that is not a decisive statement, it’s a fact. Which is why PeduL could not come at a better time.
Who else is on the wonderful PeduL team?
The rest of the PeduL team consists of our wonderful President and COO Kayla Jackson, Jennifer Griffith, a guidance counselor at Hillside High School with over a decade of experience, and Aaron Laserna, our digital marketing guru.
Explain the journey of bringing PeduL from an idea to a company.
It is no secret to us that we are trying to do one of the hardest things that we could ever attempt, but we’re proud of the company we have created and we’re very excited to deliver what’s next to come. Without going into too much detail, there have been so many bad contracts offered to us throughout this journey, or tricks attempted on us and I wish I could say that we side-stepped each effort to drag us, but we’ve climbed out of a lot of holes and we’ve climbed out stronger than when we fell in. The silver lining of those situations is that many of those attacks on us were because individuals saw the promise in our project and wanted to take as much of it as they could.
We’ll hold you to that! Best advice to give to young entrepreneurs and business owners of color?
Ask for help, get mentors, be coachable, intentionally expand your network and keep pushing.