The Highs and Lows of Starting a Business as a Young Entrepreneur | Opinion

It was like an explosion in my head when the idea hit me.

On this day in between classes, I was pondering the impending doom of paying for next quarter's tuition. Payment was due in a few days, and I didn't have the means. Cash? Spent. Scholarships? Not enough. Even my parents were unwilling to co-sign a student loan. That moment, the idea for FundEd came to me. I remember those first few weeks as some of the most exciting of my life. This is a story about a college kid with an idea, and the materialization of that idea into iamfunded.com.

I had never done anything like creating a company before, so my first move was to develop a business plan. Using books like The Lean Startup as I guide, I gained a solid understanding of what to accomplish, and what was required. Next, I selected my closest mentors and shared the concept of a crowdfunding platform designed for college students with them. They were helpful because they were supportive, and asked me really tough questions about who the product is really for, how I was planning to operate it, and if taking on a business is really something I wanted to do.

Getting that business license in the mail was invigorating. Holding that greenish paper was like holding a treasure map— sure there might be gold at the end, but what I really cared about was embarking on the adventure. The day I received that business license I put a piece of paper on the ceiling above my bed that reads, "1,000,000 Students" to remind me every morning why I'm getting up.

One of the biggest struggles I've encountered on this journey was selecting the wrong technical co-founder, who I'll call Joe. I met him at a Young Professionals of Seattle mixer. We were like a duo from a movie- two young guys building a tech business out of his garage in Seattle. We split the equity 80/20.

A year later our chances of success together came to an abrupt end. Our deadline to complete the site was September 1st, just in time for the upcoming school year. That morning, my login attempt failed. I called up Joe to see what was up. He said in plain English, "The system we built is gone." I realized the reason it wasn't finished was because it was accidentally erased weeks earlier, and he for whatever reason hadn't told me.

It was such an anti-climactic result to what we had built. A year's work, hopes, dreams, all blown up in a day.

So I let Joe go. Not because of the mistake he made, but because of his dishonesty about it. We're still great friends, but no longer business partners. A giant reset button had just been pressed. Instead of searching for another technical co-founder, I decided to bootstrap it and hired a developer to create the system. I found an inexpensive developer overseas. He created the system twice as well and in half the time. Currently iamfunded.com is running smoothly, and it is so fun to see it grow!

We are anticipating 1200 users by this Fall, with donations totaling $80,000! The current system that creates trillions of dollars in student loan debt sucks, and I'm on a mission to change that. FundEd actually represents a shift in dependency upon large banks and the government to fund education, to students and their own communities. Not every student cares about graduating debt-free, nor can all students graduate debt free. But, for those who are already hustling and have a fire in their belly, here, I made this for you.

Kason Coulter is a senior studying entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business.

Kason Coulter
Kason Coulter is a senior studying entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business. Kason Coulter/Kason Coulter
The Highs and Lows of Starting a Business as a Young Entrepreneur | Opinion | Opinion