Photo courtesy: David Potter
After receiving a full-ride Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship in 2014, David Potter entered the University of Maryland, College Park, with every intention to graduate with a finance degree. However, plans changed when he decided to drop out of college during his junior year to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams full-time – but first, let's start from the beginning.
Growing up, Potter, who was raised in a single parent household, moved every single year due to his mother struggling to make ends meet. He was later separated from all of his family members when he was placed in foster care in the fifth grade. As a middle schooler, he ended up being taken in by his aunt and uncle, and despite his past circumstances, it was during that time that Potter started to develop a strong focus for academics, telling Because of Them We Can: “I liked to put an extreme amount of focus on one thing and guaranteeing that one thing succeeds.”
That focus grew even stronger during his senior year of high school when he heard about the Bill Gates Scholarship, which is a full academic scholarship award program for exceptional minority students. After becoming a Gates Scholar, Potter went on to attend the University of Maryland, where he met his roommate and then future business partner, Abb Kapoor.
During their sophomore year, Potter and Kapoor tried to apply for off-campus housing but weren't approved due to their lack of an established credit history. As a result, the two came up with the idea to create an automated credit builder called Curu (Credit Guru). According to the app's website, "The beta version of Curu helps millennials build credit by matching them with the best-prequalified credit cards to confidently start building credit with. The app also takes basic information like a user’s income and monthly expenses and gives simple actions that can build a person's credit score."
Photo courtesy: David Potter
By junior year, one morning at 2 a.m. during fall semester to be exact, Kapoor told Potter that he couldn't get his mind off of Curu and believed that they should both pursue it full-time. Potter smiled and responded: "If you're serious, you know that is a choice... we can figure out the details in a second, but if you want to do it, we have to take this seriously and be smart about it."
They both then started treating Curu like a real company and made the transition into full-time entrepreneurship by taking hybrid courses and attending only mandatory classes. Earlier this year, Potter and Kapoor took home first place in the University of Maryland's largest business competition called the Pitch Dingman Competition, where they earned more than $15,000. They then left school to develop their app at Queen City Tech, a North Carolina based accelerator program for financial-technology startups. By making the decision to leave college, Potter had to drop a full-ride scholarship.
"Being confined and fearful before, allows me now not be fearful, because I know how it’s been on the other side of that. I know what it's like to be at the bottom, have everything against you, be homeless, be scared, and I’m not afraid of that anymore… So when it comes to taking a risk like leaving school… I’m not afraid to fail, I’m not afraid to hit the bottom because of that mix of life experiences."
Now, as CEO and co-founder of Curu, Potter is on a mission to make managing credit as simple as possible for everyone, as well as use his story to inspire others to intentionally pursue their passion. His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who look like him would be: "Take your disadvantages and make them advantages... whatever struggles that you face, those are stepping stones on helping you succeed."
For more information about Potter's financial management platform, visit: www.curu.app