Co-founder Andyshea Saberioon
Co-founder Ricky Johnson
At the National School Board Association ConferenceIM: How did you get the idea for PledgeCents? AS: Ricky and I have been best friends since 8th grade. We both grew up in a philanthropic household and grew a passion and appreciation for education because we were both blessed with having a great education. Fast forward some years and a lot of our friends became teachers who would continuously discuss the amount they are spending out-of-pocket or that their students won’t be able to attend the annual field trip due to lack of funding. When we learned about crowdfunding and how simple the model is, we immediately thought about education and looked into the different funding options available for not only K-12 teachers but also anyone under the K-12 umbrella who works with fundraising. Our passion for education plus the simplicity behind crowdfunding came together to create PledgeCents. The intent behind PledgeCents is to minimize the $1.6 billion that teachers spent out-of-pocket last year and provide more access to funding to schools everywhere.
Talking about PledgeCents at the Texas PTA Launch ConferenceIM: What inspires you? AS: I will always say that my father inspires me. He came to the US in 1976 when he was 18 and only had $14 in his pocket. He went from Iran to Louisiana (just a small difference) and did not have any friends or family here. My dad was able to teach himself English and receive a degree in engineering and have a successful career in his profession. I could never imagine moving to another country without knowing anyone, can’t speak the language, and no money. IM: How do you stay inspired? AS: The kids. Seeing smiles on the kids’ faces that are are being impacted by PledgeCents is awesome! Some days are harder to get out of bed than others, but at the end of the day I remember I have the best job. My job is to help our youth receive the best and most educational opportunities possible. Knowing that more than 26,000 students have been impacted from PledgeCents is huge and I hope to only grow that every day, month, and year.
Students love the PledgeCents bracelets
Teachers reppin' PledgeCentsIM: What's been your most memorable experience with PledgeCents so far? AS: We have been very fortunate to have a lot of memorable experiences so far but I think my best experience is recently. We recently hit the $100,000 mark raised for classrooms on PledgeCents and that is so cool. I remember when we were almost at $100k and waiting to see when we would tip over and one individual invested quite a bit late in the evening and that tipped us over. Knowing that the idea that Ricky and I had has evolved into an actual platform that has put more than $100,000 back into classrooms is great. And being able to go through this journey so far alongside one of my best friends has also been a humbling and awesome experience on its own.
PledgeCents' first successfully funded campaign helped raise money for a community garden
This elementary school class was able to purchase new headphones thanks to a successful PledgeCents cause
Government teacher's wish was granted when the class was able to get a weekly subscription of "The Week" magazineIM: What advice do you have for people that want to start their own company? AS: I think you should only start a company if you have more reasons than just “I want to be my own boss.” I think that is an awful reason why anyone should start a company. You have to be passionate about your idea/vision and let that passion grow into a company. One piece of advice is don’t do it alone. If you’re lucky like me, you will be able to start a company with one of your best friends since the 8th grade. Ricky and I have been blessed and fortunate to have a lot of friends who have helped us grow along the way. Being able to surround yourself with smart people who want to see you grow is very important for any starting entrepreneur.
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