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A humble beginning
Where We Started
The idea for CandidWorks was inspired by the desire to give back during the 2008-09 Mortgage Crisis. As a result of the recession, founder Nick Brown was unable to continue funding his college education, and returned home his freshman year. Only a year later, news broke on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil-Disaster. As an able-bodied construction worker at the time, images of devastation on the Gulf became a call to action, and he set his sights on traveling to the coast to volunteer in the clean-up.
After being approved for time-off and carefully planning a budget for food, gas, and lodging; however, he came to find it wasn't his living expenses that would hold him back, but his student loan payment without the overtime he relied on. Watching as thousands of paid temp workers were shipped in to facilitate the clean-up, and finding his student debt had not only prevented him from completing college but also volunteering for the causes he cared about, he set his sights on how to reverse the impact the cost of college has on our ability to provide for ourselves and others.
From the wake of the BP Oil Disaster through the beginning of the Student Loan Debt Crisis arose the inspiration for CandidWorks - an innovative platform that provides students and graduates the ability to break free from their student loan debt and provide volunteer services to the social and environmental causes that are important to us all.
Nicholas Brown; Founder
CandidWorks Founder; Business Strategy at Genworth
VCU; MS of Product Innovation; BS of Mass Comm
Nicholas is a Product & Service Designer with a history of successful E2E project launches across multiple industries. When not designing new product and services, Nick is passionate about applying his skills to improve the humanitarian and environmental conditions of the world around us. In 2019, Nick founded CandidWorks to make higher education more accessible to those with limited means while providing support to the causes they care about.
Hui Zhai, Media Strategy
Co-founder of CandidWorks, Graduate Student of Georgetown University
VCU Master of Product Innovation; BS of Economics
Hui Zhai is a current graduate student of Georgetown University in Washington DC. With over a decade of experience in business reporting and an award winning career publishing news content for international news agencies, Hui's experience brings perspective to our mission of supporting the financial, humanitarian, and environmental initiatives around the world.
Wa’il Ashshowwaf, Partnerships & Growth
CEO and Cofounder of Unstuck Labs; Founder of Reyets
Harvard; Ex. Ed – Strategy, Georgetown; MS of Business Leadership, CSU BS of MKTG
Wa’il is an impact driven leader, entrepreneur, tech guru, UI/UX designer, and creative startup strategist. His professional experience spans a range of industries including roles at Walt Disney World, Pepsi, HSBC, and cofounding numerous startups. As of Fall 2019, Wa’il and Unstuck Labs partnered with CandidWorks to accelerate the business and tech development of the current CandidWorks user interface.
Charles Castelly, Business Strategy
Director of Business and Partnerships at Unstuck Labs
Mary Washington; BS of Leadership and Management
Charles Castelly has a long history of service spanning from his role in the military, to providing business development assistance for over 50 start-ups through his work at Unstuck Labs. Charles is an experienced entrepreneur, and with extensive experience in business finance and expansion. Since partnering with CandidWorks this Fall, Charles has been integral in model development and networking.
CandidWorks is a current partner of UnStuck Labs in Rosslyn Virginia. Unstuck Labs is a multidimensional start-up accelerator that assists in taking big ideas to a deliverable level. Unstuck Labs is a digital agency that specializing in providing companies with a variety of technical services, including website and mobile app development. And the founders are entrepreneurs and dreamers in their own right: They believe in, and invest in other products and companies, as well.
Virginia Commonwealth University da Vinci Center
CandidWorks is a current partner of Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center. The VCU da Vinci Center provides cutting edge, innovation-based programs focused on merging the study of arts, business, and engineering into real world problem solving and entrepreneurship. The VCU da Vinci Center has been a support platform for entrepreneurial education, networking, and planning for our projects early stage development.
Become a Partner
Become a partner in the social, environmental causes you care about.
As a start-up focused on impact, we are always on the lookout for partnerships based on social and environmental improvement. If you are part of a charity/non-profit that could use support - a commercial venture looking to give back and support the community while supporting education – or even have a bright new idea for service, contact us. We look forward to hearing from you, and, as always – wish you the best in all your endeavors!
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