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How a Pile of Student Debt Inspired a Venture-Backed Startup

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This story appears in the April 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Rod Ebrahimi watched his girlfriend finish graduate school with a hefty amount of debt. The two created a spreadsheet to help plot how to tackle repaying her student loans and the other debts they had accrued. As they worked, it occurred to Ebrahimi that this was a widespread problem that technology could solve--the perfect opportunity for a Silicon Valley startup.

His own personal finance hurdle was the catalyst for ReadyForZero.com, a San Francisco-based company that helps consumers manage debt. At the time of his light-bulb moment, Ebrahimi had been accepted to Y Combinator, a Mountain View, Calif., incubator that helped launch social news site reddit and document-sharing service Scribd. Ebrahimi and Ignacio Thayer, a former senior software engineer at Google, decided to ditch their idea for a news-aggregating service and instead use their time at the incubator to develop the debt-relief concept.

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