STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Amid the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mariners Harbor native and musician Jason Shoneyin found himself helping his friends and family obtain funds to keep their business afloat, or simply earn enough money to put food on the table for their family.
“It was a very tough time for a lot of people. I noticed that people were struggling, and I saw so much demand for help,” he said. “The pandemic taught me a lot I needed to know for myself and the people around me. I wanted to share that knowledge to help better people’s lives.”
So in May 2020, he teamed up with Yazmerlin Rodriguez of the Bronx and fellow Staten Islander JiannaLucia Pischetola to launch First Class Help, a business that assists people, particularly minorities, low-income earners and women, in becoming more “financially literate,” said Shoneyin.
“This pandemic has caused everyone to learn about their finances. …There was a huge lack of jobs, and people were frantically trying to figure out how to make money to provide for themselves and their families and to save their businesses,” he said.
“However, interestingly enough, people didn’t take the time to see opportunity throughout the turmoil. That’s where First Class Help steps in. We bring that extra clarity you need to be able to see things from a different lens,” added Shoneyin.
With two brick-and-mortar locations in New York City, First Class Help plans to expand to 10 locations within the next year, he said.
“As a Black-owned business, we have a vested interest in showing the community there is no limit to what you can accomplish once you establish a positive, healthy relationship with money. The company is made up of 80% women. We believe strongly in the power of women and minorities in all industries and as entrepreneurs, and we are opening new doors to women and minorities every day,” said Shoneyin.
First Class Help offers a variety of different services, including:
- Credit repair
- Education stocks and options; learning about cryptocurrency
- Psychology of money
- Grants and loans
- Building a business from scratch
- Immigration services
- Personal services
- Chexsystems — a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency — removal
- Unemployment insurance assistance
“One thing I love to do is put people in a better position or situation than what they were in before. My goal is for First Class Help to breed millionaires and billionaires from dealing with us,” he said. “We want to change the way people see money forever, and use it to their advantage to be able to take full control of their lives.”
Shoneyin said he is currently working with the Long Island-based Finally Free Productions to develop the “First Class Help, Learn To Be Your Own Boss” application. The company is currently trying to raise money to fund the app via crowdfunding
and hopes to have the new app launched next year.
“This application helps people become their own boss. We plan to be top competitors in the fintech space alongside apps, such as Robinhood, Chime, Self, Coinbase, Paypal, Cash App, Venmo and more,” said Shoneyin.
LEARNING HOW TO BE HIS OWN BOSS
First Class Help isn’t the first business Shoneyin has owned. A music artist, he was signed to a record label called Asylum Records.
“I had a viral song called Mozzy that grew rapidly across Staten Island and the Tristate area. I also had a concert at Eve Ultra Lounge, which was sold out by 800 people. … I decided to put a pause on my career and take a different turn and pursue different things,” he said.