GoPuff is a mobile convenience store that was first thought up by then-business students Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola during their freshman year here at Drexel in 2013. Ilishayev and Gola used their freshman year to plan their new business and by their sophomore year were delivering to students — mostly smoking-related products, hence the name “goPuff” — from the back of their car. GoPuff works through an app that acts as an online Wawa-like convenience store. Users place their orders and, within an hour, goPuff delivers the goods. Since its founding, goPuff has expanded at an astronomical rate and most recently secured $1 billion in funding from the Saudi- and Japanese-backed company Softbank.
Ilishayev and Gola have always been very philanthropic with regard to Drexel, even donating a Torah to the Drexel Chabad in 2018. Now the duo is establishing a $25,000 scholarship to be awarded to qualified students in the Close School of Entrepreneurship over the course of two years.
Ilishayev commented: “During our time at Drexel, Yakir and I met, conceptualized a business plan and launched goPuff on campus; so naturally, the university holds a special place in our hearts. We put everything we had into our business while at Drexel. Since then, we’ve sought to engage with other entrepreneurs and provide support whenever we can. Donating to the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship is a great way to continue doing this.”
Gola said, “At goPuff, we’re committed to supporting each of the communities in which we operate. This is especially true in our hometown of Philadelphia where goPuff got its start and where much of our team works and lives. Now, six years into running goPuff, Rafael and I are passionate about supporting aspiring entrepreneurs and this scholarship is another way we can help the next generation of business leaders in Philadelphia.”
While it is unclear if this scholarship will become a regular financial opportunity at Drexel, the goPuff scholarship will be extremely important to both the Close School and its recipients. It will help further the field of entrepreneurship education at Drexel, and it will allow Close to continue excelling as the only freestanding entrepreneurship college in the county.