Startup Directory

Upon graduating from Columbia University’s School of General Studies in 2009, Brendon McQueen left the Morningside campus with a sheep skin and a pile of student loans totaling six figures of debt. The confusion caused by so many loans was nearly as discouraging as the mountain of debt. He was never sure, one month to the next, who he owed money to, how much he owed or what his options were. Mr. McQueen’s position was not unique.

There are currently over 37 million Americans with student debt totaling over $1 trillion – more than the total credit card debt in the US.

Because Mr. McQueen has, like many Columbians, an entrepreneurial spirit, he took a broader view of his situation and formed a Santa Monica-based startup that helps recent graduates with debt organize and best manage their student loans and it is all for free.

“The trick to starting a company is to keep going and remain confident in yourself and the solution you are creating” said McQueen in a recent interview with Columbia University Entrepreneurship staffers.  “Oh, and the other trick is to do this while having no capital, working a second job, growing a family and operating 24×7 completely outside your comfort zone”. Little doubt remains that this hard part is why there aren’t more entrepreneurs.

Mr. McQueen is starting to see the upside of hanging in there. His customers are starting to appreciate his commitment and he is gaining traction.  Even more important is that he’s helping thousands of people figure out their financial issues. now manages over $650mm worth of outstanding student loans.

“It’s a new world out there for entrepreneurs. The opportunities are endless, but so are the challenges, which is why Columbia’s efforts around helping entrepreneurs — the individuals who end of creating jobs and fueling the global economy — is both crucial and much very welcomed. Columbia’s support, especially at the start of the journey, can help people realize their own potential.”

“We’re building out a set of entrepreneurship programs and resources across campus that includes co-working spaces, mentorship, workshops and events” said Richard Witten a 1975 Columbia alumnus and special adviser on entrepreneurship to University President Bollinger.  “It is our goal to make it easier for young entrepreneurs like Brendon to launch Columbia-born businesses.”

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