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ChangEd Founders "Embrace the Broom"

September 20, 2018 | By

This article was originally posted on Business Insider

  • Nick Sky and Dan Stelmach, brothers who founded the student-loan-payment app ChangEd, say you need to "embrace the broom" to find success as an entrepreneur.
  • Embracing the broom means doing whatever job that needs to be done and not thinking the work is beneath you. The advice can be traced back to Andrew Carnegie, the 19th-century business magnate.
  • Through hard work and persistence, the brothers scored an appearance on "Shark Tank" and a $250,000 deal with Mark Cuban.

If you want any chance at success as an entrepreneur, you're going to have to "embrace the broom."

That's what Dan Stelmach and Nick Sky learned from their mother, who immigrated to the US from Poland and worked three jobs to support the family as a single parent.

"She was always doing the dirty work to get the job done," Sky told Business Insider.

That willingness to grind out a living is what embracing the broom is all about. The idea comes from Andrew Carnegie, the 19th-century business magnate who once said that an aspiring business leader shouldn't be afraid "to try his hand at the broom," no matter their greater ambitions.

Stelmach and Sky have taken that to heart as they work to get ChangEd, their student-loan-payment app, off the ground.

The app, which the pair began working on in 2016 and launched in April 2017, is simple enough: A user link their bank account, and every time they use their credit or debit card, ChangEd rounds the purchase up to the nearest dollar and collects the change. When the pool of change reaches $100, the app automatically sends a payment to the user's student-loan servicer. The creators say the service can speed up a user's payment timeline by six years.

Sky and Stelmach have put countless hours into developing their app. Both worked on ChangEd at a full-time pace while holding down other jobs — Stelmach sold cars, while Sky woke up at 5 a.m. to drive for Uber. Stelmach has said he invested his life savings, about $30,000, into ChangEd.

"If you're trying to build something from the ground up, a good work ethic, persistence, and discomfort are all things that you need to be OK with," Sky told Business Insider. "You'll be introduced to the broom, and if you think you're too good for it or that the work is beneath you, you'll have problems. No work is beneath an entrepreneur."

He continued: "Embracing the broom, to me, means being happy to do the dirty work, understanding that you're not beneath the work just because you think you're more qualified."

When the brothers pitched their app on an episode of "Shark Tank" that aired earlier this year, the panel of celebrity investors took note of the lengths they went to in order to finance their dream.

"That's the way you hustle," Mark Cuban said on the show. "That's what I'm talking about."

"Now THAT'S an entrepreneur that's Rising and Grinding," Daymond John tweeted.

Cuban eventually offered the pair $250,000 for a 25% stake in their company, a deal they accepted. The exposure they got from "Shark Tank" helped grow their business "tenfold," they said, and last month the company announced it had sent its millionth dollar to student-loan servicers since the app launched.

"Not everything is all sunshine and rainbows every single day, but we love the roller-coaster ride that a startup is, and we're working hard every single day," Sky said.