Penn State Student Startup LoanCrunch Looks to Rescue America from Crushing College Debt
Students in the United States owe upwards of $1.6 trillion in student debt and that number is growing every day. Trying to navigate post-college life is challenging enough. Toss in the increasing costs of living with the skyrocketing debt and trying to achieve the American dream can seem daunting. That’s why Penn State students Michael Miller and Jack Quinn are developing “LoanCrunch,” an app helping students through the loan repayment process.
Miller (Smeal College of Business, 2020) and Quinn (Engineering, 2020) are graduating this year and will begin paying their students loans back shortly after. Feeling the pressure of the future and understanding they were not alone in this challenge, they decided to develop a rewards-driven technology platform that simplifies the student loan process by building a custom, goal-oriented plan to pay off debt.
The idea for LoanCrunch was actually the result of another idea not coming to fruition. In the spring of 2019, Miller and Quinn applied and were accepted into the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank’s Idea TestLab for their startup idea “LineHopper.”
LineHopper was an app to connect people in line at a fast-food restaurant with people who wanted fast food but didn’t want to wait in line. The person-in-line would receive the person-out-of-line’s order and pick it up with their own for a small fee. It was a clever solution, but through the customer discovery process the Idea TestLab taught them, they realized it wouldn’t work right now.
“The Idea TestLab was a springboard for us learning how to build a viable startup. The cool thing is that it all starts with an idea but where it takes you, you never really know until you try,” Miller said.
After switching gears from LineHopper to LoanCrunch, Miller and Quinn looked to Invent Penn State for support advancing their idea. They quickly identified Invent Penn State’s Summer Founders Program, as what they were looking for. The program gives student startups with at least one Penn State student founder $10,000 to work full-time on their startup, social good, or non-profit idea over the summer.
“This opportunity was unlike any other. What other time will you be able to spend 13 weeks just talking to dozens of potential customers and building a company?” said Miller.
“It was a pivotal moment for LoanCrunch and in both of our lives,” Quinn added.
That experience propelled the pair to the 2019 Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference, where they participated in the Student Startup Showcase. The Showcase featured eight of Penn State’s best and brightest student startups presenting their ideas to a packed room of venture capitalists and potential investors. As part of the Showcase, each student startup received $2,000 in funding from Invent Penn State to help advance their startup.
The team also participated in the President’s Tailgate, hosted by Penn State President Eric J. Barron. Per tradition, the President’s tailgate takes place during Penn State’s White Out football game and hosts influential alumni and donors. Happy Valley LaunchBox Chief Amplifier Lee Erickson is instrumental in organizing and preparing the startups for the event.
“From creating our LLC to filing for trademarks, the services provided by Penn State’s legal clinics have been essential to getting things off the ground,” Quinn shared. “In addition, the mentorship provided by our trusted and caring advisors, Lee Erikson and Ben Nason from the Happy Valley LaunchBox, has made all the difference.”
Miller and Quinn are on track to launch LoanCrunch publicly later this year. In the meantime, they’re preparing to compete for a potential $30,000 prize in the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program’s (PennTAP) Inc.U Competition for a share of $30,000 in startup funding.
To learn more about LoanCruch or to contact their team, please visit http://www.loancrunch.co.