The 29-year-old Bryon Dawayne Pierson first hit my radar in 2019 when, as editor of Out in STL, I was searching for dynamic LGBTQ+ St. Louisans for our Influence Issue, and Habitat for Humanity’s Michael Powers nominated the tech entrepreneur. Since then, Pierson has missed no opportunity to update me on his startup, EDUrain, which partners with colleges to build official off-campus housing marketplaces.
At the time, I wrote:
“Bryon Dawayne Pierson Jr. is driven in the way someone is driven to escape a burning house. At just 15, the Alton native ran away from his dysfunctional family, determined not to succumb to their lifestyle of guns, drugs and sex addiction.
“Despite bouncing through six foster homes, Pierson excelled in O’Fallon (Illinois) High’s wrestling program. With no financial backing, he put himself through college, first attending Lincoln College, where he continued wrestling. He completed his studies at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where he became an LGBTQ activist as the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance before graduating with a major in political science and a minor in psychology.”
Inno Madness is a friendly, bracket-style challenge where readers vote to advance companies based on one question: Who would you invest in? The bracket is designed to shine a spotlight on 32 innovative, fast-growing local businesses. The St. Louis Business Journal debuted Inno Madness in 2022, with Business Video School being their inaugural champion.
“We are for students, by students. Our team is made up of recent and current college students who had trouble with finding or securing housing.” says Pierson. “This company started as a research assignment and I didn’t know a thing about business, but I knew in my heart I could create an organization that can help students in college and make money at the same time. I feel like we can win this market, because we are smart, coachable, hard-working, and our heart is in the right place, which shows in our product.”
EDUrain currently partners with eight colleges, and has been nominated for local supplier of the year by the St. Louis Apartment Association.