Gabriella Carter is a Jamaican-born entrepreneur who spent much of her young life in the United Kingdom. She attended middle school when her family relocated to Florida at age 13.
In high school, she combined her impressive academic performance with athletics, playing softball and actively running on the track. Carter’s dream was to go to college right after high school, but the cost of attending college was too expensive for her.
She also didn’t want to join the rank of people burdened by student loans. This motivated her to start searching and applying for student scholarships.
“Once I figured out that there’s free money out there that other people could give to me because they believed in me and my dreams so that I could go to school for free, I jumped on it and applied to every opportunity that I saw,” Carter told CNBC Made It.
According to her, she applied to over 100 different programs despite the grueling process of the application. “The more scholarships I applied to, the better applications I was able to submit and ultimately have more success down the line,” she notes.
Carter reveals that she got 30 of her scholarship programs rejected back-to-back before winning a $20,000 check from Coca-Cola. According to CNBC Made It, Carter won 35 different scholarship awards totaling over $2 million through high school and during college. A high scholarship was enough to enable her to graduate from college debt free.
After finding success in the scholarship space, people became interested in how she did it. One inquiry after the other prompted her to turn her side hustle into a full-time gig.
“We had our scholarship banquet at my high school, I had to get up at least 20 times to collect my different awards,” Carter says. “That made people very curious about how I was able to have scholarship success.”
This inspired her to launch Growing with Gabby. It started offline and later went digital, leveraging social media to answer some of the questions her high school peers were asking, and soon reached a larger audience. She also shared her success story on Youtube, experimenting with content creation. While at Princeton, she rebranded, using the name, Growing with Gabby, and built her brand’s following on Instagram.
“I didn’t even know people were really making money like that from posting online until I was approached with an opportunity from a major retailer and they paid me $2,500 to share about a scholarship opportunity that they had,” Carter says. “Once that happened, I was like, ‘OK, I see the value in the information that I’m offering.’”
After graduating from Princeton in 2022, she got a job as a marketing analyst, earning $90,000 a year. However, she quit her 9-to-6 job in February this year to focus on building on growing her company and also pursue a new endeavor — being a part of NBC Universal’s inaugural Creator Accelerator program.
According to CNBC Made It, the business earned $177,000 in 2022, however, Carter expects it to bring in closer to $300,000 this year.