Tuesday, July 26, 2022

For good reason, there is a countdown on Justin Dwyer’s calendar.

On Sept. 7-8, Dwyer and his co-workers at Cambio will participate in Demo Day through Y Combinator, one of the most prestigious startup accelerators, located in San Francisco. It has been an interesting journey for Dwyer, a University of Iowa graduate, who gained his business pitching experience at Startup Games through the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC).

“(Iowa JPEC) was a training program on how to start a company,” said Dwyer, who graduated in 2020 with a degree in enterprise leadership. “JPEC taught me to figure things out. It was that process of learning, understanding, finding your way to the root of the problem, and solving it. That allowed me to thrive in this position as co-founder and product lead (for Cambio).”

Dwyer’s association with Iowa JPEC started late in his junior year. He was taking business classes, but when he realized his graduation date was approaching, Dwyer desperately began searching for credentials to put on a resume. He applied for hundreds of internships, was offered two interviews, and bombed them both. No jobs seemed appealing. Then someone suggested he look into JPEC.

“I went all in,” Dwyer said. “I had no other way to productively spend my time, so I was going to be as productive as I could be with the (Iowa JPEC) course work.”

Through JPEC competitions and classes, the Muscatine, Iowa, native pitched ideas that included using drones for search and rescue, and building living and working commercial spaces that Iowa businesses could use for short-term housing. Neither gained traction. While working for a financial advising firm, Dwyer noticed that many of the clients took positive actions to increase their wealth. He noticed the stark contrast of his friends and loved ones who struggled to match these positive actions. After digging into the problem, he found these struggles were often a result of the credit system that is in place in the United States.

Dwyer understood his knowledge of credit was limited, so he wanted to learn from an experienced mentor. He connected with a data scientist who had a previous boss who was working on something that sounded similar to what he wanted to do — use banking data to help people make better decisions. Two months later, he was offered a job at Cambio by CEO Blesson Abraham.

The premise of Cambio is finding a way to help people recover or rebuild their finances after a significant problem. Cambio gives its members the technology needed to rebuild credit quickly through automated disputes and credit builder loans.

Y Combinator likes the idea so much, it invested $500,000 in Cambio. After three months in the program, the folks at Cambio will pitch during Demo Days to woo interested venture capitalists. Although the final pitch event will be virtual, Dwyer and others from Cambio will travel to Silicon Valley, spend time together as a team, and participate in informal Y Combinator sessions while preparing for Demo Day.

As cofounder and product lead, Dwyer “builds things badly, gets feedback, builds them better, and the loop continues over again.” He also handles support, all marketing strategy and implementation, oversees the website, and manages relationships with partners.

In Dwyer, Iowa JPEC has an alumnus participating in one of the world’s most prestigious startup accelerators.

That’s worthy of setting a calendar reminder.

To learn more about Cambio, click HERE.