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Invest in Arbol

🌲A platform connecting low-income students with financial and community support

Highlights

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🌱This problem is growing and the utilization of our core ethos has been used before. Kiva is a great example.
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🚀Huge demand! Currently, have a waitlist of 4,000+ students awaiting onboarding.
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💼 Team of first-generation college graduates with a startup, finance and product background.
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🤝 Established partnerships with nationally known organizations like the Urban League.
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📈Growing market with 100BN+ TAM and 8M+ students.

Our Team


Invest In The Future Of Low Income College Students


🙌Key Take-Away🤯:

Only 16% of low-income college students graduate. On top of the normal stressors college Students face, like fitting in, students of low socioeconomic backgrounds are often confronted with additional obstacles. Many experience financial distress, lack of mentorship, and little ongoing support. 

Not having a sufficient amount of funds often leads to Students withdrawing. This combined with the lack of mentorship and support ensures Students are more likely to complete their education.

Arbol is making America more equitable by fueling the development of low-income college Students who despite all the financial and social challenges they face, remain resilient and never choose to give in.  

Arbol is a multi-sided platform that uses technology, finance, and the power of the crowd to enable low-income college students to obtain the financial and community support they need by connecting them with online sponsors. While helping the students, Arbol also provides online supporters with the transparency, one-to-one connection, and proof of impact they seek. Thereby, increasing access to low-cost funding for students, and enabling online supporters  to share in the students’ journeys.

THE PROBLEM

Colleges and universities struggle with serving low-income and first-generation students. While 60 percent of the wealthiest students complete their studies, only 16 percent of low-income college students graduate, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Low-income students cannot afford to sustain themselves on financial aid alone. 7 of 10 college students juggle working a full-time job while striving to keep up with their schoolwork – inevitably hurting their grades, causing burn out and resulting in dropouts.

Below are the primary factors contributing to the low graduation rates:

  • Basic Needs Insecurity – A survey released in 2019 by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. While 56% of respondents were housing insecure and another 17% were homeless.
  • Lack of Knowledge About the College Experience - Four times as many first-generation college students will drop out of college compared to their peers with at least one parent who pursued higher education. Parents and family who went to college have plenty of information and lots of stories about their college experiences to share with their children.
  • Lack of Support from Home – Lack of support from family and friends at home, as compared to other students around them, can make first-generation college students feel abandoned and without the ​encouragement they may need to stay the course.
  • Guilt – Leaving family behind to attend college far from home isn't easy for any freshman student, but for first-generation students, homesickness and loneliness are often intermingled with guilt. Especially for students from immigrant families who are sometimes the sole English speaker in their household, there can be the unnerving and difficult feeling that they have abandoned their family.



    ACCELERATION AND MARKET

    There are over 8 million low income college students that spend about $150BN annually in pursuit of their degree.  Students earn money in a variety of ways ranging from picking up jobs to taking out loans. According to Lexington Law, 44 percent of millennial college students worked every year they were in school in 2020, while 65 percent of millennial college students had to take out student loans to pay for their degree in 2020. [1]

    The market is growing. The share of college students who are in-poverty or non-white has increased significantly over the past 25+ years and is likely to continue to rise moving forward. According to Pew Research, the share of students from a nonwhite background has increased from 31% to 47%, while those who in poverty are up from 29% and 21%, respectively, 20 years earlier. [2] 

    Eventually, Arbol will move into international markets and expand beyond the education segment into other financially disadvantaged communities such as people with disabilities and immigrants that are looking to self-actualize their dreams, expanding the TAM to over $1TN internationally.


    [1]Lexington Law: College Spending Habits for 2021

    [2]Pew Research Center: A Rising Share of Undergraduates Are From Poor Families, Especially at Less Selective Colleges


    SOLUTION AND PRODUCT

    Arbol is a market network that enables low-income college students to crowdfund cash from supporters to cover a defined expense or set of expenses according to a goal. Students and supporters create social profiles to connect and interact with each other.

    Below is a brief description and demonstration of the core features of Arbol v1:

    Profiles: Students and supporters can create social profiles that includes their background, interests, education, professional history, and future aspirations.



    Raise Funds: Students can setup a fundraising goal to cover the life expenses such as food, rent and childcare while they're attending college. They can also raise funds to cover their tuition gap.






    Discover + Contribute: Sponsors can find students to contribute towards based on a set of attributes ranging career aspirations and majors to personal interests and location. We are working building a recommendations engine to help sponsors find students with greater precision, speed, and ease.


    Update: Students can keep their sponsors up to date with their progress, challenges they are facing and ask for additional help by sending them regular updates. Sponsors can respond to the updates. Both parties can share them freely if they prefer.

    Social Feed: Students and sponsors can deepen their relationships and networks by engaging with social feeds and posts.

    TRACTION

    Arbol has established working partnerships with the Urban League, Road to Hire and Buffalo Prep to supply a pool a students and supporters to use the platform. These groups will serve as our launch partners and will serve as a source of critical user feedback and testing. 

    The product was launched in beta in Q3 2021 with a small set of early adopters consisting of students and supporters. 


    GO-TO-MARKET

    Today sales and marketing efforts are largely network/word of mouth based. The initial cohort of customers includes referrals mostly from pre-existing relationships from social impact partners. Arbol currently has 4,000+ students and 100+ supporters in the funnel.

    The team has also done a significant amount of cold outreach to great success, establishing relationships with Georgia Tech, amongst others, proving that cold leads feel the pain point and have intent to learn more about the platform.

    Lastly, the Arbol team is building a social media following by asserting the company as thought leaders and credible partners to social impact organizations interested in helping disadvantaged communities. The following will build across multiple social media platforms and will grow through organic posts and cross-collaboration with popular social channels in the social impact space.

    Arbol is a low friction sign up. Initially, the team will hand hold each student through onboarding, initial fundraising campaigns and profile creation, but the platform is designed to accommodate a touchless onboarding and campaign deployment.


    HOW WE MAKE MONEY?!

    Arbol operates on a commission + success-based pricing model. It’s completely free to get started, once students start raising funds, they will share a percentage of their contributions plus an industry standard rate for processing payments from their supporters. Arbol is free for supporters and is intended to remove friction in bringing contributions onto the platform.

    It is the Arbol team’s hypothesis that by removing barriers for supporters to make contribution that it will be easier and faster to bring donor money on to the platform.

    Pricing is being experimented on and will likely be a moving target for the foreseeable future. In initial customer conversations, no one has pushed back on pricing which means there is likely upward movement on pricing.


    USE OF FUNDS

    Arbol plans to raise a $150K pre-seed round to finish the development of our product, release a beta and bring on the engineering staff full-time. Based on our current burn forecast, with no revenue, this initial $150K will give the company approximately 10+ months of runway with 2 full-time developers and 1 full-time UI/UX designer.

    The team will explore future fundraising strategies and opportunities based on performance but does not intend to raise traditional venture financing to retain optionality for the business moving forward.


    TEAM

    Arbol is founded by an experienced team of crowdfunding experts, social impact veterans, startup operators, software developers and of course, first generation college students. The team understands the problem and has the skills and expertise to solve it.

    Favio Osorio (co-founder, CEO): Favio has 10+ years of experience in financial services holding various roles across several functions including wealth financial planning, project management, business analytics and strategy. As a founding member of M&T Bank’s Multicultural Banking group, he leads various enterprise-wide initiatives intended to enhance the banking experience and growth of multicultural customers across multiple lines of business.

    Favio has developed a deep understanding of the distinctive challenges and preferences of multicultural segments, in particular immigrants and communities of color. Favio has an MBA from Duke University’s The Fuqua School of Business.

    David Gonzalez (co-founder, President): David is currently Vice President of Operations (acting COO) at Kangarootime (Series A) where he runs the day-today operations of early-stage ed tech startup. He also serves as partial CFO, responsible for cash planning, capital allocation, pricing strategies, financial projections and assisting with fundraising.

    Under David’s leadership the business has grown from $400K ARR to $3.5M ARR, raised $8M+ in venture financing that increased value of the company from $8M to $30M, expanded operations to Australia, and scaled the team from 12 to 40 full-time employees.

    Prior to joining the startup world, David worked in financial services for 6 years, most notably as a product manager at HSBC bank where he shipped 4 products in four years including a conversational banking platform. And has also had stops at M&T Bank as VP, Innovation and Delaware North. David has an MBA, Finance from Canisius College.

    Read the Buffalo Inno article to learn more about David.

    Mark Rudolph (founding team, Lead Engineer): Mark has 10+ years of experience as a full-stack engineer, most recently at Carvana, an online marketplace for used car buyers and sellers. Mark led development for a cloud-based VoIP provider building and automating platforms that provide advanced analytics and interfaces to customers, as well as enhanced operational tools for internal service provisioning. Mark was part of the founding team at Sensorcon. He also has P.h.D. in computational chemistry.

    Mark is building the MVP of the Arbol platform working nights and weekends. He plans on converting to a full-time Arbol employee by the end of 2021.

    Mark is also in the process of identifying a front-end engineer to join the team in a part-time capacity in the summer of 2021.

    ADVISORS

    Steve Nicosia: Steve Nicosia is the CEO of Zen Advisory Partners where he helps software and tech entrepreneurs start, build, grow and exit their ventures. He also works with high-impact, high-growth software companies as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Launch NY and as a mentor with Endeavor. Steve is guiding fundraising strategies, financial modeling, and budgeting.

    Isaac Adejuwon: Isaac is the founder and CEO of Metricsflow, a data attribution tool that provides 100% of visitor data across channels and platforms - without ever using cookies. Issac guides go-to-market and startup, also providing access to his experience as an engineer to guide dev-ops and security strategies for the application.

    WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT TO US?
    We believe that talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not. As first generation college graduates we experienced this unfortunate reality first hand. Rather it was having to work a full-time job to pay for school and living expenses while attending classes and participating in college athletics, while our peers had the privilege of using their free time to study or engage in college social life. 

    We've experienced having to learn a new language and culture while earning a degree. Or learning that being first generation also means building a network from scratch rather than leverage an existing one to get your first internship.

    We've also learned that are millions of low income students who have far more challenging circumstances like having to care for parents back home or having to cover the cost of childcare while paying for college.

    We believe that by removing financial barriers and providing a more robust set of human resources that more students will not only graduate, but realize their dreams and aspirations.

    WHAT DO WE SEE FOR ARBOLS FUTURE 

    Following the release of V1 of the Arbol platform, the team has a long roadmap of new products and features to further develop the ecosystem of users and use cases including a “mentorship” product to enable students and supporters to deepen their relationships and a “spend management” product that helps students to optimize how they manage and spend their funds raised from sponsors.

    New products will drive more engagement on the platform and provide new revenue streams for Arbol.



    Overview