Hayley Barna, Lil Jon and Other Celebrity Judges Award $10,000 to Fund Wheelchair Accessibility Device from Brigham Young University Team
NEW YORK – July 11, 2017 – Piero, with a co-founding team of six students from Brigham Young University, has won the fourth annual CommonBond Social Impact Award from financial technology company CommonBond in partnership with Pencils of Promise. The award honors the nation's top undergraduate entrepreneur whose for-profit business plan drives social good. Piero was selected by a panel of celebrity judges as the most promising undergraduate business venture that also produces a positive social impact.
Piero aims to revolutionize wheelchair accessibility at college campuses. The team has developed Angel, a small electronic device that pings a door as a wheelchair is approaching and automatically opens the door for the user. The team receives $10,000 to put towards their business, plus a year's worth of advisory services from CommonBond. At the event, First Round Capital venture partner and Birchbox co-founder Hayley Barna graciously offered one-on-one pitch coaching to all finalists.
Piero was joined by finalists Dough4Degrees, a scholarship consultancy to make college more affordable, and StreetMate, a homeless shelter search and matching platform, to pitch their ventures at CommonBond’s New York City headquarters. These finalists received the most votes by the public from a pool of nine semifinalists, and several hundred applicants. All applicants received free coaching sessions from CommonBond and Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, on building a for-profit business that also makes a positive social impact.
“At CommonBond, we believe that for-profit business can and should have a positive social impact. That’s why we have our Social Promise, whereby every loan funded by CommonBond also funds the education of a child in need, through a partnership with Pencils of Promise. We started the CommonBond Social Impact Award four years ago to inspire other businesses to drive social change,” said David Klein, CEO and co-founder of CommonBond. “The caliber of this year’s applications demonstrates that more than ever, young entrepreneurs are focused on how their businesses can drive social good. I’m proud to award this year’s CommonBond Social Impact Award to Piero, who has already taken great strides to improve accessibility for wheelchair users, and I look forward to helping Piero continue to make an even greater impact.”
This year’s judges include Adam Braun, CEO and co-founder of MissionU and founder of Pencils of Promise; Hayley Barna, venture partner at First Round Capital and co-founder of Birchbox; David Klein, CEO and co-founder of CommonBond; and Lil Jon, Grammy award-winning artist, producer, and tech enthusiast.
“Each of the three finalists demonstrated incredible originality, a strong business plan and the drive to affect social change in their communities,” said Adam Braun, CEO and co-founder of MissionU and founder of Pencils of Promise. “We're proud to partner with CommonBond in presenting the CommonBond Social Impact Award to Piero, and supporting the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Initiatives like this award pave the way for making social good a critical part of all companies' business models."
Previous CommonBond Social Impact Award winners include Pasture Map, which helps sustainable cattle ranchers in the U.S. to maintain responsible grazing practices; Sanlaap North America, which rescues, shelters, and empowers victims of human trafficking; and Kheyti, which builds low-cost greenhouses for small farms in India.
CommonBond is a financial technology company on a mission to give students and graduates more transparent, simple, and affordable ways to pay for higher education. The company offers refinance loans to college graduates, new loans to current students, and a suite of student loan repayment benefits to employees through its CommonBond for Business™ program. By designing a better student loan experience that combines advanced technology with competitive rates and award-winning customer service, CommonBond has funded over $1 billion in loans for its tens of thousands of members. CommonBond is also the first and only finance company with a "one-for-one" social mission: for every loan it funds, CommonBond also funds the education of a child in need, through its partnership with Pencils of Promise. For more information, visit www.commonbond.co. CommonBond is not affiliated with or endorsed by any educational institution.
Pencils of Promise is a for-purpose organization founded in 2008 with the goal of increasing access to quality education for children in the developing world. PoP works with communities across the globe to build schools and create programs that provide educational opportunities for children. To date, PoP has built over 400 schools and provides access to education to more than 72,000 students throughout Ghana, Guatemala, Laos and Nicaragua, establishing itself as a leader amongst the innovative global nonprofits working toward sustainable social change.