Everything always starts with one. One human being with one thought. One glimpse into one possible future. One person who has a vision to fix one aspect of this worlds brokenness. One paragraph. One step. One moment. One raindrop. Everything starts at one.
TuitionCoin came to me as an idea after reading “Red Blooded Risk” in the winter of 2013. The book was to improve the way my trading algorithms handle risk. Just like any risk, what happened next was unexpected. This one, tiny paragraph stopped me in my tracks. I put the book on the side of my bed and lay awake dreaming of the implications. The paragraph described potential uses of derivatives for main street. Immediately; in that one moment it became clear to me that finance could improve the lives of millions of students.
Before we continue on the genesis of TuitionCoin; it is time to share about myself. My name is Eric Smeby. I am founder of TuitionCoin.com. From Aug 2000 to Mar 2017, I worked in the software division of a company that specializes in higher education. A fair amount of my life has been spent noodling on higher education.
I consider myself an entrepreneur. In 2003 my first company was founded. I did not quit my job. It was done on the side. It grew to about 60k customers and was sold. After years of work it really did not make that much money. Every dollar earned went to advertising. At some point I realized I could make more money investing in other successful companies.
That is when I started learning about investing. It became part obsession and part hobby. Macro economics is delicious. It’s like a massive puzzle. A brilliant game. After trading for myself I wanted to help others. In 2010 I became a Registered Investment Adviser. As a programmer I wrote algorithms to trade the market. Tons of economic and trading books have graced my eyes. Yet, my advisory business did not grow. Simply put; I don’t feel comfortable asking to manage other peoples money while I trade as a side gig.
Those are my three passions. Finance, Education and entrepreneurship. They are my passions because they are forces that drive the most good in the world. With any powerful force they can be misused; and horribly so.
With that background; picture me curled up in my bed in the winter of 2013, reading that paragraph, as my mind immediately goes to the problem of student debt. Ever since that one night; An obsession was born. A solution was seen that can dramatically improve our world.
2014 was spent researching, thinking and imagining. What could go wrong, what am I missing, who else has thought of this, attempted this. Can this really happen? How? What’s the business case? The risks? The steps required to build this?
The answer is the answer to anything. One step at a time. One night of working past midnight. One vacation spent on the laptop. One student loan refinanced, and one investor at a time.
2015 was spent building a lending platform, getting our first customers, and securing a consumer finance license.
2016 was spent growing our backlog of borrowers, finding a bank to partner with and seeking capital to grow.
2017 is the year I went full time on TuitionCoin. To push the company to transform how we finance higher education. It will happen with many one steps, with many one moments. As we close investors the dominoes start to fall.
This blog will detail the journey of these drops of rain collaborating and pooling together. As I write about our mistakes, our solutions, and our achievements. As together we watch this flood wash away the current broken system of student debt.
This is my introduction. TuitionCoin is my passion. I ask one thing from you. This one moment, take one step, contribute your one raindrop and join us at https://TuitionCoin.com.