No twenty year old college student could be described as a serial entrepreneur, but Peter Cetale (ILR ‘19) comes close. After founding three businesses and two active campus organizations, Peter has become an expert at putting ideas into action.
Peter is the CEO and founder of Religio, an “Enterprise software company that gives churches tools to connect, engage, and retain their members.” The business idea started when he was a freshman in college and was unable to donate during the collection at Mass because he did not have cash. He noticed most people his age did not carry cash or checks, and therefore struggled to donate to church collections. To solve this, Peter launched Church Deposit, a mobile application for churches to receive secure electronic donations from their congregations.
However, Peter quickly discovered that the real issue wasn’t with the means of donations but actually with the declining membership numbers. “About 80 percent of Catholics leave the Church by age 23, and there has been a 20 percent decrease in overall Christian Church membership numbers in the past four years,” he explained. Peter created Religio to solve this issue and focused on the needs of their communities. Peter added, “Many churches don’t know how to position their best resource: their members. The platform enhances these resources through technology to promote charity, transparency and create a seamless system.”
Religio allows churches to create virtual communities and run many of their operations online where members can access them anytime from anywhere. Church congregation members sign up through Religio for free and can join their churches’ networks. On Religio, members can auto enroll their attendance to services, make electronic donations, access volunteer and mentorship opportunities, add to prayer lists, and more. For pastors, they can gain analytics through Religio’s church management software which allows them to more easily direct their congregation. Currently 12 churches are on a pilot plan with Religio to foster communities that are more connected when they come to church.
Religio is scaling fast. The business is hiring full-time employees for both tech and business roles while gaining a seed round of investments. While the platform is currently serving exclusively Catholic churches, Peter plans to expand the platform to all Christian sects in 2019 and other charity-based organizations in 2020. In all this growth, Peter has found the largest challenge has been keeping up with the demand of churches that want to sign up.
Finally, Peter is constantly being entrepreneurial and trying new things within his own business. He is currently working on an educational church management vlog series that has already begun to be on youtube for church administrators. The videos teach churches how to better manage their operations, as well as utilize business techniques to benefit their congregations.
Peter realized how currently many nonprofits struggle with management and finances. The video series will teach these administrators the principles to create thriving organizations.
When not working on Religio, you can find Peter reading management books, playing chess, or running meetings and events for Cornell Marketing Organization and Cornell Entrepreneurship Club. You can learn more about Peter on his website.