IgniteHQ Social Impact Lab member Caleb Gilbert is an unexpected startup founder with heart.
Gilbert, a senior engineering student at Kennesaw State University, said his entrepreneurial journey began last year with an idea he knew would help millions of people. He and Georgia Tech graduate Payton Jonson saw a need for consumers and service providers to conduct monetary transactions more securely.
The two partners developed a mobile application named Esgro that allows individuals to send and receive money through the safeguards of an escrow account. Funds are disbursed once certain agreed- upon conditions are met reducing the instances of non-payment or stolen funds.
Caleb says that although he felt compelled to bring his idea to life, the past nine months haven’t been easy.
“We’ve had a lot of hiccups along the way,” said Caleb. “There were a lot of questions and unknowns. It took nothing but grind to get to where we are today,” he said.
Throughout his nine month journey, Caleb was also certain he wanted to include a charitable component to the business.
“We didn’t see much social good in Fintech,” said Caleb. “We want to be philanthropic at our core,” he added.
Aptly named the Gro Project, Esgro’s charity will be funded by a small amount of interest earned from money sitting in Esgro reserves. The founders haven’t named the beneficiaries yet, but they say the money will go directly to helping people in Atlanta. According to Gilbert, homelessness is an issue close to his heart.
“My mom worked very hard to support us, but I didn’t grow up wealthy. After I graduated high school I saw homelessness as a real possibility for people. All it can take is one bad month to put someone in a downward spiral,” Caleb explained.
When he’s not finishing his classes, building a startup or thinking about charitable beneficiaries, Caleb Gilbert is looking forward to mentoring members of IgniteHQ’s Social Impact Lab.
“I love helping others,” said Caleb.
The startup founder says he received meaningful guidance from IgniteHQ’s CEO Mark Hubbard in his earliest days. He plans to pay it forward through mentorship.
Esgro is now in beta testing (the deadline to apply for beta testing is April 20, 2019) and Gilbert and Jonson have been accepted into the prestigious Queen City Fintech Accelerator in Charlotte, North Carolina.