Christopher Gray, the eldest of three siblings, had a difficult childhood. He and his siblings were raised by their single mother, who was poor. Gray discovered role models by reading. He read books by seasoned authors such as Warren Buffett’s biography Snowball and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Those books assisted him in identifying his potential.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, as an eight-year-old growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, he found inspiration in comic books and superheroes such as Batman. “Everything fell apart for him at one point. He had lost everything, including his family. “He had to overcome that, those fears, by using everyday objects around him,” Gray said of his attachment to Batman.
His mother lost her job at the end of high school due to the 2008 recession. The prospect of not attending college was staring him down. His mother had a low credit score. Furthermore, no one in his family had ever attended college.
His hopes of finding scholarship grants online were also fading as he lacked access to a computer. Instead, he went to a public library, where he had to leave after only 30 minutes to make room for others. He needed to finish his research quickly, log off, and then wait for a computer to become available again. Finding credible scholarships to apply for took him about seven months.
According to him, the stressful process eventually paid off. He received $1.3 million in scholarships and enrolled at Drexel University in Philadelphia to study business administration. According to him, the scholarships covered him until the completion of his Ph.D.
Gray, aware of his own financial difficulties, decided to develop a solution to help others in his situation. This inspired him to create Scholly, a platform that helps students find scholarships. Prior to launching Scholly, he discovered that approximately $100 million in scholarships go unclaimed each year. Despite this, students were drowning in debt.
In 2015, his breakthrough came when he appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and convinced the sharks to invest in his idea. He secured $40,000 in capital. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the Scholly website was inundated with requests, 80,000 in a few hours after the program was aired.
Since then, thousands of users have downloaded the app. What is more, the app has already helped students with over $100 million in scholarships.