Class of '01 alumnus launches his dream
It took Marion class of 2001 graduate Matthew Schuler several years to find his purpose, so he started a company to help other people find theirs.
He is founder and chief executive officer of tech start-up Sol Inc., a web-based human development platform that aims to globalize education by connecting students with expert teachers and mentors.
“Basically our mission is to revamp global education,” said Schuler, who now lives in Oakland, California. “And we are thinking big and taking a big swing at it.”
A pandemic that left multitudes of students struggling in loneliness and boredom convinced him of a need for high-quality education online.
Schuler, a veteran of Silicon Valley start-ups Cameo and Greenfly, went all-in on his bet.
He quit a high-powered job at Facebook and began raising venture capital.
Sol Inc. has nine employees and plans to launch later this year.
The journey from graduate to tech founder has been a long and colorful one — but Schuler also is a survivor.
He developed cancer of his salivary glands his senior year.
Surgery performed at the Mayo Clinic to remove it left Schuler, a state champion in drama on the forensics team, with a paralyzed face.
Doctors told his parents, Gary and Mary Schuler, he had three months to live when the procedure failed.
“They weren’t able to get it all out,” he said. “Doctors wanted to do radiation therapy, but it would have given me brain damage. So I decided not to.”
Schuler switched to an all-natural diet and ate no sugar, fat, dairy, or raw vegetables for years.
The regimen was hard, but it worked. He gets regular x-rays, but the cancer remains in remission.
“It was two or three years of never having a pizza,” he said. “Now I try to be as healthy as I can. I work out a lot and eat raw foods, but I eat whatever I want on the weekends.”
Schuler still is grateful for the fundraisers that helped his family and the support of classmates, who still are tight friends.
The atmosphere of encouragement gave him the nerve to speak at graduation in 2001.
“We really jelled as a class and enjoyed being together and doing things together,” he said.
Schuler believes he got a good education from teachers at Marion and said attending a small high school, didn’t hold him back — it launched him.
“It allowed me to follow my curiosity, which was a privilege,” he said. “In a larger school, I might not have been able to do that because there is so much competition.”
Growing up in a small town taught Schuler to solve problems and respect differences of opinion — a must for any entrepreneur.
“You can’t ghost or cancel anyone because everyone is always going to be right there all the time,” he said. “You are going to see them at the store. You are going to see them at school. You have to figure out how to work out your differences.”
Since leaving Marion, Schuler has opened and run businesses in Cape Town, South Africa.
He bootstrapped a career in technology by watching experts on YouTube.
He did well in tech startups but felt restless. Schuler accepted a job at Facebook to see whether corporate Silicon Valley whether it had anything to teach him.
“I wanted to see if there was a secret sauce or magic to running a large tech company,” he said. “I found there really wasn’t.”
So he decided to strike out on his own doing what he thinks he does best – helping people achieve their dreams.
“Cancer shows you the things you think are worth living for,” he said. “And it should be about doing something you love.’
Last modified Sept. 23, 2021