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First Friday Interview: Christopher Gray, Local Shark Tank Winner

First Friday: Christopher Gray, Scholly

This month we’re excited to feature Philadelphia entrepreneur, Christopher Gray, who was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank in February 2015 for Scholly: an app that gives students a simple way to find scholarships for college for free. The 24-year-old Drexel graduate launched the app in May 2013, and as of June 2016, Scholly has matched students with more than 245 million scholarships, totaling over $1 trillion dollars!

Since Shark Tank, Christopher has received incredible amounts of positive feedback. He was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Social Entrepreneurship, earned a spot on Forbes’ 30 under 30 for 2016, and won Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Competition. Media coverage included outlets such as Forbes, USA Today and Ebony. We sat down to get the scoop on this local “Million Dollar Scholar.”


PPRG: What was your main goal for creating the Scholly app?

CG: I wanted to make it easier for students to find scholarships, saving them time and ensuring they can get the funds for the college of their dreams.


PPRG: How did you win $1.3 million in scholarships?

CG: I applied for for dozens of scholarships and ended up getting most of them. The problem is it took me months just to find all of the different opportunities, and I realized other students faced the same issue. Hence, why I started Scholly.


PPRG: How did you begin work on Scholly before Shark Tank, and how has the process changed for you?

CG: Before Shark Tank, I was in college, and Scholly consisted of my two co-founders and me doing everything. Since Shark Tank, we now have a bigger team and are able to delegate things in order to grow the company intelligently.


PPRG: How would you describe your experience on Shark Tank?

CG: The experience was amazing and intense. There is a lot that is edited from what you actually film versus what is shown on the show, so it was exciting but also amazing to see what is on the show and how ABC positions things. (I filmed for a lot longer than what was aired on the show.)

My friends and family were excited, and so was my team. The exposure we got to millions of Americans was a great experience that really helped take Scholly to the next level.


PPRG: How has your life changed since landing a deal with Sharks Daymond John and Lori Greiner?

CG: Daymond and Lori invested in Scholly because it was a great business, and it has a massive social impact. While they aren’t traditional tech entrepreneurs, their personal brands serve as a great medium for marketing and PR. We’ve received numerous opportunities and exposure from the experience, and the Sharks add their own layer of value.


PPRG: You were recently named Forbes’ 30 under 30 for 2016. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs searching for success?

CG: I would advise them to work harder than those around you, weather through the ups and downs, make connections that add value to you both personally and professionally. Read a lot of books and ask a lot of questions in order to learn everything you can.


PPRG: Describe what a typical day for you.  

CG:  I usually start the morning with breakfast (a lot of times at my local favorite spot, Parc). Then I head into the office (if I’m not traveling) for meetings, follow ups, calls, and to work with my team. After work, I usually attend networking events or do yoga at Maha Yoga. While most of the places I’ve traveled to are for business, I do enjoy meeting amazing people, speaking engagements, etc.


Philly PR Girl: Which Philly neighborhood can we find you in?

CG: University City


PPRG: What excites you the most?  

CG: Helping others. I love the work that I do with Scholly and countless people we are able to help. Having people come up to me all the time saying how Scholly has changed their lives is a meaningful experience.


Download the app today for iTunes or Android. To learn more about the Scholly app, visit the website or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you ever used the Scholly app, or auditioned for Shark Tank? Share your experience in our comments section!