Scholarship Crowdfunding – Village Scholarships

scholarship crowdfundingScholarship crowdfunding seems like a very good idea, especially when people crowdfund everything from business start-ups to honeymoons to funerals. I am actually surprised nobody has implemented it already. Tasha and Antonio Adams hope the Sharks will like their ahead-of-the-curve thinking when they pitch Village Scholarships, their scholarship crowdfunding concept, in Shark Tank episode 707.

I call it a concept because Village Scholarships doesn’t have any real backbone yet. They have less than 500 users and their donor base is practically non-existent. What they have is a great idea; hopefully they have a plan to execute on it. Antonio says Village Scholarships is like Match.com meets Kickstarter. The concept is students needing money create a profile, as do donors. Donors can be scholarship granting institutions or entities or even private individuals (think friends and family who’d help crowdfund a student’s education). Both donors and students can browse to find good fits for scholarships.

It sounds good, but there isn’t much of a user base on either side of the equation. If Village scholarships wants to pioneer scholarship crowdfunding, they’ll need to exponentially expand their user base on both sides of the coin. There have been a lot of stories about students using crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo, YouCaring, Fundraise.com and others to get cash for college and there’s one site, ScholarMatch, already doing it on a limited basis. Still, no single business has become the “Kickstarter of College Scholarship Crowdfunding.”

Antonio and Tasha obviously need the “Shark Tank effect” to get their vision moving forward. The real question is will a Shark think they have the right concept?

My Take on Scholarship Crowdfunding

I currently have four children attending college, one in grad school and three undergrads. We used every resource available to us to find the cash they needed. One more wouldn’t hurt, it would be welcome! One of my daughters even looked through Scholly, the scholarship matching app Daymond and Lori invested in back in season six. With the escalating costs of higher education, more viable tools for students to find money is a very good thing.

IF the system was operational, I’d be telling my kids to get on the site and create a profile. With the four of them spending what amounts to the national debt of some small countries on their education, we need all the help we can get!

Will Sharks join this Village?

Village Scholarships should be a technology play, which is probably why they are pitching to Chris Sacca in this episode, but there doesn’t seem to be any technology behind the concept – at least now. The only hope Village Scholarships has for getting a deal is if they have something bigger waiting in the wings.

Their current website is a simple Wix site – which wouldn’t be bad if they were selling a single product. Unfortunately, a business with such visionary and lofty goals needs a better backbone to impress the Sharks. If the business is “pre-revenue,” they’ll need an extremely attractive valuation to attract a Shark. When compared to two of the other tech plays in this episode – Fixed and Hatch Baby – Village Scholarships falls way short on their technology and on their pre-Shark Tank ability to attract other institutional investors.

I really think they are on to something with the scholarship crowdfunding concept, I just don’t think they have enough in place to get a deal in the Shark Tank. I hope the Sharks applaud Tasha and Antonio’s vision and don’t create a “train-wreck” pitch, but I think they’ll leave the Tank without a deal.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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