Student Spotlight: Lucious McDaniel IV

Lucious McDaniel IV Headshot

Lucious McDaniel IV


Name: Lucious McDaniel IV

Class: Sophomore


Position: Founder, CEO of Phly

Topics of Interest: Technology, Business, Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy


The guy behind Phly

Lucious McDaniel IV took it upon himself to hone in on an idea and build it from the ground up. He and his team, composed of Electrical and Computer Engineering students Tara Kuruvilla and Grace Anconetani, have been working on this startup, Phly, for quite some time. When we first heard about the startup, we were unaware of how much the platform had to offer and the functionality it would bring to organizations to help them raise money. Lucious’s ambition matches up to his talent and intelligence, bringing him to where he is today – the start of something groundbreaking. 

Pronounced like the word “fly”, Phly comes from shortening the phrase Lucious coined, “philanthropy on the fly.” Lucious was motivated to create Phly so students and organizations on campus could be more philanthropic. The platform makes the fundraising process more efficient and painless for all parties involved. 

Lucious McDaniel IV and his Phly team at Capital Factory

Lucious McDaniel IV and his Phly team posing for a photo at Capital Factory.


The idea that took flight 

Lucious explained that his team came up with the idea out of necessity, “We realized that as student organization leaders ourselves – myself and my whole team included – that one of the most tedious parts of our roles as finance chairs and leaders of organizations is trying to manage the on-campus aspect of things.” 

After dealing with a variety of hodge-podge excel sheets and various documents with contesting formats, it was evident that there was a need for something better. The Phly team then created a solution that would work for their student organizations. 

Once we realized it was working for these [student] orgs that we are in, we said, “why not roll it out to the rest of the students at UT?” 

The Phly team had a mission to make student fundraising easy for everyone across the country, but before they could do that, their goal was to help their peers here on the Forty Acres! 

You have to run before you can Phly 

One of the major problems Phly was designed to solve was cutting out the need to use personal Venmo and PayPal accounts to collect donations. When organizations use personal payment accounts to, for example, collect money for baked goods they are selling on Speedway, donations and personal payments quickly get muddled. Before long, student organization leaders have a big problem on their hands which is only made worse by piles of spreadsheets. By eliminating that process, organizations can keep better track of money that is being exchanged. 

The Phly team knew integrating Venmo in their platform was going to make them very useful for student orgs, but it was tough.

The first two times we went to Venmo to get approved for our integration, they said “No”. After I kept being extremely persistent and going after them, talking to them, and trying to improve our product, they eventually said “Yes”.

Today, Phly has one of the few coveted partnerships that Venmo doles out to external organizations, allowing them to integrate the popular app into their platform.

Lucious McDaniel and the Phly team working

Lucious McDaniel IV and the Phly team working with the Austin Skyline in the background.


Ready for takeoff! 

Due to Lucious’ uncanny ability to find a problem that needs a solution, Phly was born and then fully developed by going above and beyond to develop that solution. Asked about his interests and what he feels his career trajectory is, Lucious shared, 

“…my end goal right now is either to be a startup founder myself or to work for another startup in a product-centered role.” 

Lucious spent quality time in San Francisco this past summer as an intern for Flo Recruit, a startup launched out of UT, which was participating in Y Combinator – the world’s best accelerator program. Going forward, Lucious plans on using his degree in Canfield BHP, MIS to either continue building his own company or work in product at a fast-growing startup.

“Early on, [Interning at Y Combinator] solidified my love for working at scrappy startups but it also solidified my interest and passion for sales, marketing, and especially product”

Parting Advice 

Lucious advises that anyone looking for a place in the Canfield Business Honors Program or wanting to get involved with startups should explore business-related organizations in high school like DECA. Being involved in organizations played a key role in building connections and long-lasting friendships. 

If you’re interested in learning more and run a student organization, signup at and start fundraising the right way today by creating your first campaign with Phly. Lucious is also happy to make each of these lines of communication open for either academic or Phly related matters:

P: 832-341-7603


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