Nick Pirollo was pitching a startup idea to Dorm Room Fund, a new student-run venture firm where Christopher Gray was partner, when the tables were suddenly turned. Gray listened to his plan to optimize the reach of hashtags, and, intrigued by Pirollo’s tech expertise, approached him about co-founding and building the product for another company, one that focused on connecting students with scholarships to pay for the steep price of college, now known as Scholly.
Gray was able to secure $1.3 million in scholarships, including a full ride from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to pay for his own college education at Drexel University, where Pirollo also attended. He used the extra funds after covering tuition for books and personal expenses. Now, the duo, along with co-founder Bryson Alef, aim to enable others to do the same, matching high school and college students with fitting scholarships based on several key parameters, including home state, race, gender, GPA and major. The Scholly app provides sample essays from past winners of scholarships to guide students in the application process.
Scholly has raised $9 million for students so far. In a particularly dramatic episode of “Shark Tank,” which aired in February, Gray convinced Lori Greiner and Daymond John to invest a combined $40,000 in Scholly, for a 15 percent stake in the company—a deal that ignited a spirited debate among the sharks. Pirollo and Gray share their story.
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An App Matches Students With College Scholarships They Can Use was originally published on praisecleveland.com