The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Where did you go to school?
Texas Tech University
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
When I was a child, my Dad would take me to the department store and the first place we would go to was the toy section. He would stand at the end of the aisle and say “you can choose one toy and ONLY one toy,” this, of course, assuming I wasn’t a little s**t that week. We would walk down the aisle, and I would choose a toy. We would continue to walk the toy aisles and inevitably I would ask “can I get this Dad?’. He would remind me of the arrangement and tell me to think about which toy would be more fun. I would think about it, weigh out the pros and cons of each toy and make a decision. Once I did he would tell me to put whichever toy I did not choose back where I found it. This was my first lesson on the importance of the process of evaluating the value and that all decisions require choice. Those choices can be emotionally driven or as my Dad taught me the result of a little thought. Or he could have been wearing me out putting back all those toys so I would sleep on the drive home. Either way, it was a win-win for the both of us.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
I would say one of the most exciting entrepreneurs is Magnus Walker. If you follow his story, he has a canny ability to see opportunity when they arise. All of his endeavors seem to be taking advantage of opportunities that arise while doing other things. When he came to America from England, he ended up at Venice Beach wearing pants he had altered that he purchased at a thrift store. The store owner asked if he was willing to sell them. He thought about it and said 25 bucks. The store owner said sure and since he paid $10 for the pants at the thrift store he went back and bought some more pants, and a business was born. He had no intention of selling pants when he went to the beach that day, but he was smart enough to recognize an opportunity staring him in the face. He grew that company and bought a building in LA which he later rented for film productions and a second opportunity arose, and he and his wife began a business in the media and entertainment industry.
Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
What is the name of your company?
Where is your company located?
What services or products does your organization provide?
We will provide a platform for college students who are in school and utilizing a student loan to receive financial contributions for the specific purpose of repaying their student loan with a catch, they must graduate to benefit from our system.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
Reduce student loan debt and increase the graduation rate.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
Most financial contributions are made to students in the form of grants and scholarships. The problem with this form of support is that if a student drops out all of the financial assistance they have previously received is depleted and therefore unavailable to other students who also need that money for their education. Our model of donation where donors support students directly or through our partner foundation motivates students to graduate because altrubanc will only release donation holdings directly to loan holders of student loans after a student is verified as graduated. If one of our students drops out all of their previous donations are redistributed to the entire altrubanc student user roles through or partner foundation.
What the altrubanc model does is motivate participating students to graduate. The altrubanc model will also assure participating donors that their financial contributions will be implemented after a student has earned it by graduating or still motivating another student to successfully attain graduation. This transparency in use of funds is also is a better way to support students of an alumnus’s school rather than alumni contributions to the school itself where the donors are not always clear on the use of their financial contributions.
Altrubanc will also be utilized as a recruiting tool for business interests where future employers can support students while in school and hire them post-graduation.
In conclusion or model is transparent and financially efficient for participating donors and a motivating influence for participating students to graduate.
The result of altrubanc will be more graduates with less debt who can now use that liberated economic purchasing power to contribute to and grow our economy.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
I had decided to go back to school. I got approved for a federal student loan of $25,000.00. I suddenly got terrified at the prospect of carrying this debt into such an uncertain future. I now knew what every student who takes out a student loan in America feels, fear. I backed off of registering and decided to think about it a little longer. While doing so, I read an article regarding equity crowdfunding as a form of start-up finance. What struck me was the lack of structure regarding ownership of a company with all these small investors. I began to contemplate some fundamental structure of what I thought needed to be done to make this structure of finance better. While doing this, I thought “sure would be nice if I could find a way to use this to fund my education?”. And that’s where it began. All that I needed to create was structure and trust. I knew students could use it but how would I get people to support them? The answer was trust. Build a structure and operating rules that donors could trust by answering two questions every donor would most likely ask. The first question, “do students need my financial assistance and how much help do they need? The answer, yes they need your help, and the verified loan proves the need and the total loan amount is how much. The second question, “Do they deserve my financial help?” The answer, yes, because they have earned it by achieving graduation. Asked and answered.
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business
Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting on their journey?
First tip: Do not get emotionally attached to your body of work. Many times we have had to make changes to plans and abandoned previous work. This happens because you sometimes have to verify that a plan or strategy is NOT viable. This is thankless work, and it does not make you a poor strategist it merely makes you a thorough person.
Second tip: I always consider three things when evaluating offering anything to customers. Does the customer need or require it? Can you monetize this offering to profit? Finally, would this offering have negative liability possibilities? Simply put, do they need it? Is it profitable? Are you liable? If the answer is yes, yes and no then you are in reasonably good shape to proceed.
Third tip: Do not be afraid to be upfront and forward with people. You will always be talking to people about your, but if you are not making progress or good connections, then you need to limit your time in less fruitful events or groups. Sometimes it is better to have some free time to yourself rather than use that time trying to “sell” your idea to people who are just not buying. Over time you will get a better idea of the types of people receptive to your, and you can utilize your time seeking their audience.