Cal State Fullerton graduates who launched Earn and Trade. From left to right, Josiah Peedikayli '22, Dylan Bertalli '22 and Josh Paktan '22.

Finance Graduate Helps Users Earn Cash, Gift Cards When Buying Their Favorite Brands

It’s early 2020. The world is in lockdown. Like most college students around the world, Cal State Fullerton finance undergraduates Dylan Bertalli ’22 and Josh Paktan ’22 are homeschooling with little free time and little money.

“Because I had an unpaid internship at Titan Capital Management and recently moved home, I didn’t have the money to keep buying to adjust for the stock market crash,” recalls Bertalli. “This motivated me to look for ways to make money online so I could keep adding to my stock and cryptocurrency trading accounts. I found not many trustworthy sites that would allow users to make decent money, and not many sites that would allow Users earn cryptocurrency. So, I bought the name, got the cheapest web hosting, and started an interesting project.”

With the experience of Titan Capital Management and its subsidiary program, Student Managed Investment Fund, Bertalli is ready to start a finance-related business.

“Titan Capital pushed me because it’s all about stocks and financials. Every meeting we’ve had during COVID is about bottoming the market and it’s time to buy. I know I need more money to enter the market,” he said.

Bertalli’s ultimate concept is a platform where users can interact with brands and earn over $500 through sign-up offers and trials, which includes an average of 3.5% points back on purchases with advertisers, now over 150 advertisers indivual. Users can exchange their points for PayPal deposits and gift cards of their choice. Soon, cryptocurrencies will be available in addition to PayPal and gift cards, giving users more options.

Two years ago, Bertalli knew almost nothing about coding or web design. But YouTube tutorials come to the rescue. After completing the initial homepage design and a few other pages, Bertalli called his classmate and friend Josh Paktan.

“Dylan and I had been discussing business ideas, but when I picked up the phone that night and heard the initial concept, I wanted to go all out,” recalls Paktan. “The opportunity to come up with this idea fueled my enthusiasm for working with Dylan at the company.”

For the next few months, the two spent daily on the phone strategizing. They eventually recruited a third partner to serve as CTO — CSUF computer science student Josiah Peedikayli ’22.

Fast forward two years and Earn and Trade has a full website, two interns, and 150+ advertisers.

Start and pass the CSUF Small Business Development Center

The most time-consuming aspect of Earn and Trade since its inception has been web development.

Bertalli said: “We are always developing the product. We are constantly taking user requests and developing features. For example, we received requests to develop a Google Chrome extension early in the release to make it easier for our users to find the ones that are using Earn and Trade. Advertisers. This summer, we hired two interns to develop the product to meet the needs of our users.”

In the early days of their business, Bertalli and Paktan relied on the power of the Titan network to join every computer science club on campus, looking for talent and best practices.

This concept greatly benefits from the Technology Dreams program of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a division of the Federal Small Business Administration with a physical presence on the California State University Fullerton campus.

Leading SBDC principal Mike Daniel ’99 said, “In a meeting with the dean and two associate deans, I was introduced to Dylan and his team. They wanted to know what resources were available for their business. I was with us The advisors held several meetings and included them in the Dream Fund.”

Funded by the California Governor’s Office, the Dream Fund provides grants of up to $10,000 to Golden State residents to establish new businesses.

In the case of Earn and Trade, entrepreneurs participated in a six-week training program at SBDC’s UC Irvine offices, where they learned from angel investors how to build their business, network and prepare for financing.

Earn and Trade received a $10,000 grant in August, which they plan to use to expand into new markets and expand their business.

“As the concept gradually becomes a household name, we hope to continue working with Earn and Trade,” said Daniel. “We are an amazing resource for Titan entrepreneurs. We are all business owners and experts who can help you grow your first business, your second business, and maybe even your last. Since we are funded by the state, the federal government and Cal State Fullerton, there is no fee for any of our programs. All paid.”

“I found the six-week training program to cover everything from the basics of building a successful tech company, all the way to how to pitch money to investors—very rewarding because the program directors are highly qualified and both Both are successful companies. SBDC is a great place to grow, no matter how far along your business timeline you are,” Bertalli said.

“In addition to the wealth of knowledge of the project advisors, the most important thing is the network they provide while participating in the project. It was very rewarding to hear the stories of other entrepreneurs and the struggles they faced because it was all so relevant.”

to the future

Winning and the trade show’s commitment to the future – its continued expansion will likely include more networks in the California State Fullerton community.

Improved site features, including allowing users to add profiles, follow others and post on trader forums, provide the means for a user-generated experience that today’s young professionals are accustomed to and optimally engaged in.

In the long run, Earn and Trade may have an online brokerage that sets the startup apart from the competition.

Along the way, Cal State Fullerton School of Business faculty, alumni and business networks will be proud to support this emerging titan startup.

to know more information

Looking to start your own business? The CSUF chapter of SBDC is here to help you every step of the way – just as they support earn and trade in the Inland Empire, Orange County and Southern California desert communities and hundreds of other business concepts.

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