Imagine growing up in deep poverty during a national recession in a single-parent household. You have limited access to computers and no access to internet at home, but have the desire to go to college. This was the story of Christopher Gray; a high school junior growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. Chris knew he wanted to achieve opportunities beyond his circumstances and with his mother unemployed, he knew that it would be a tough road ahead.
For over seven months he searched for scholarships, sharing time on the few computers at the free library and writing essays from his phone, as his family didn’t have internet at home. But determination had its day; the long hours paid off. Chris won over $1.3 million in scholarships, including scholarships from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, and was able to study finance and entrepreneurship at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He was even able to cover his living expenses for all four years. He learned how to find, apply for, and win scholarships…and became an expert on the broken state of the current scholarship ecosystem.
The challenges and rewards of his experience gave him the idea for a mobile app that can make things a lot easier for students everywhere. He teamed up with fellow Drexel student Nick Pirollo and fellow Coca-Cola Scholar Bryson Alef. They became co-founders of what is known as Scholly today and what will forever be known as encouraging ‘Opportunity for All’.
Scholly received the nation’s attention and adoration when it was featured on Shark Tank, landing a deal with Daymond John and Lori Greiner while sparking the biggest fight in Shark Tank history. Shortly thereafter, Scholly grew to be the #1 overall app in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store for over 3 weeks. The company was named in Inc. Magazine’s Top College Start-Ups won Under Armour’s Cupid’s Cup competition and won Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Competition. Chris Gray was named Ernst and Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015” for Philadelphia and is one of Forbes’ “30 under 30 for 2016”. Scholly has also been featured in just about every major media outlet, including Good Morning America, Forbes, BET, USA Today, Fortune Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, CNN, Fox News and many more, as well as being featured in Cadillac’s new ad campaign Dare Greatly. and being invited to speak at conferences across the nation.
Most important to the Scholly team are the hundreds of thousands of students and families who have been able to use the platform to find over $70 million in scholarship money to go to the colleges of their dreams.
With the addition of executives with decades of collective experience in education technologies, operations, marketing, and branding, Scholly is solidifying its platform and strengthening its business, in order to better achieve its vision to help all students achieve their potential.