TIP Strategies is a privately held Austin-based economic development consulting firm committed to providing quality solutions for public and private‑sector clients.
This blog is dedicated to exploring new data and trends in economic development.
By: Marcus Wohlsen
PayPal co-founder Max Levchin faced some flak recently when he announced he was starting a new company in the already crowded field of digital payments. Levchin is one of several Silicon Valley luminaries who have talked big about the tech industry’s timidity. So starting yet another payments company seemed decidedly unambitious.
Yet plenty of companies out there are still taking a run at the next moonshot. Their technologies don’t let you share photos or offer you a deal on your next manicure. Instead, these companies could change the world in deep ways by solving tough problems, rather than the kind of “problems” too many startups make up as justifcations for the “solutions” they’re trying to sell. Not that photo-sharing isn’t great (Levchin did that, too). Unlike what the companies that follow are trying to do, however, it’s not exactly shooting for the moon.
Above: Emotiv Lifescience
You don’t get much closer to a moonshot than “let’s build a machine that reads people’s minds.” Even if Emotiv Lifescience’s brainwave scanner was just for use as a videogame controller, the company’s aspirations would still be ambitious. But when you start talking about a brain-controlled wheelchair, you’re entering the territory of technology that matters.
While still a grad student, Immumetrix scientist Christina Fan developed a way to diagnose Down syndrome in a fetus through a simple test of the mother’s blood, rather than the far riskier, unpleasant use of amniocentesis. She and her colleagues are working to perfect the technique, as well as developing ways to use high-speed DNA sequencing to analyze individuals’ immune systems for the eventual development of custom treatments.
Fan says: “In the far future, knowledge about the immune repertoire could even inform genetic engineering to give a person super-immunity or to reverse immune disorders.”
Wind and solar power are great, except when it’s not sunny or windy. But wunderkind Danielle Fong, who graduated from college at 17, has developed a new way to store green energy that claims new benchmarks for efficiency. Her system uses compressed air and a fine mist of water to pump electricity back into the grid during times of peak demand. LightSail backers Peter Thiel, Vinod Khosla and Bill Gates have poured more than $37 million so far into the Berkeley-based company.
Photo: Sam Howzit/Flickr
Unlike most companies on this list, Huawei is anything but a scrappy startup. The one-time importer of Hong Kong telephone equipment has grown into a telecom giant and one of the world’s leading smartphone makers. Though not widely known in the U.S. (yet), Huawei has succeeded not because of its phones’ features but the lack of them.
Huawei’s low-priced Android handsets are a key reason smartphones have become less of a luxury and more of a commodity in China and other parts of the world. According to one recent estimate, about one-seventh of the world’s population uses smartphones. Imagine what happens when the other six billion do.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired
In much of the developing world, credit and debit cards have never caught on, since the telecom networks needed to support their use doesn’t exist. In those same places, however, mobile phone use has exploded. In a phenomenon known as “leapfrogging,” the wires needed to power traditional card-based transactions might never get installed, since everyone will just use their phones instead.
In Kenya, mobile operator Safaricom has developed M-PESA, a way to transfer money and make microloans using text messages — no bank account required. Unlike in, say, the U.S., mobile payments have taken off in Kenya thanks to M-PESA, with millions of users. The company is working on rolling out the service to other countries where a lack of financial and technological infrastructure could cease to be a barrier to joining the 21st-century economy.
Photo: Sipa via AP Images
Saving energy is good. Saving energy without having to think about it is better. The buildings we inhabit are among the greatest sources of greenhouse gases. Nest’s smart thermostats seek to shrink this carbon footprint by learning our habits to automate indoor climate control.
The design software juggernaut Autodesk recently partnered with Organovo to make human organs designed by computer and printed by machines a future reality. Already, Organovo’s 3-D bioprinters are being used by medical researchers to print tissues for experimentation. Organovo co-founder Andras Forgacs went on to start Modern Meadow, a company developing printable meat and leather.
Photo: Dave Bullock / Wired
Few startups have had as much success in the war on cancer as Plexxikon. The company has shown dramatic results with a compound that targets a mutation found in many advanced-stage melanoma tumors (above, seen under a microscope). The next time you try to talk yourself down from work stress by saying “It’s not like we’re curing cancer,” remember: These guys actually are.
Photo: Pulmonary Pathology/Flickr
In much of the world, mosquitoes remain one of the most virulent vectors for infectious diseases. Oxitec’s genetically altered bugs fight Dengue fever by passing down a lethal gene to their offspring that kills them before they can reach adulthood. Curbing an entire species has raised concerns about unintended ecological consequences. But the use of genetic engineering as a public health tool is only likely to grow if Oxitec’s modified mosquitoes help eradicate this deadly disease.
Forget about the moonshot. How about a Mars shot? Of all the members of the PayPal mafia, which includes Levchin and Thiel, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has done the most to chase innovation on a truly grand scale. Musk not only wants to put humans on Mars; he wants 80,000 of us to live in a Martian colony. And SpaceX is his launching pad.
In the meantime, the company is busy making privatized space travel a reality. Most recently, SpaceX showcased a rocket that takes off and lands vertically—just like the ships in every sci-fi movie ever. Another SpaceX craft just docked with the International Space Station.
Photo: Space X
By: Sarah Max
Via: The New York Times – DealB%k
When Will Fuentes planned an extended business trip to Seattle last year, he tapped into the local chapter of a national networking group there. Within hours, Mr. Fuentes, who founded the Arlington, Va., software company Lemur Retail, had secured a work space, introductions and even restaurant recommendations via the group, the Startup America Partnership.“Before I flew out there, I already had five or six meetings set up with potential clients and other key contacts, as well as one potential acquirer,” Mr. Fuentes said.
A couple of years ago, entrepreneurs would have needed several trips to make similar connections outside their own cities. Even in this era of social networks and venture conferences, start-ups are still surprisingly disconnected on a national level.
“Each region has its ties, but in many cases, entrepreneurs are operating in silos,” said Carolynn Duncan, the chief executive of Portland Ten, a mentoring program for early-stage companies, mainly in Oregon. “An entrepreneur in Oregon doesn’t have an easy way to network with entrepreneurs in Washington D.C.”
Startup America, a nonprofit organization with an all-star cast of deep-pocketed backers, is trying to bridge the gap. The organization, which was started in January 2011 as the brainchild of AOL’s co-founder, Steve Case, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, wanted to bring a private-sector support to start-ups — without financial strings attached.
“Supporting start-ups throughout the country is the only way to make sure the American economy is firing on all cylinders,” said Mr. Case, who is the chairman of the partnership.
Start-ups are a crucial driver for job creation in the United States. From March 1994 to March 2010, businesses less than one year old created 3.9 million jobs a year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though that number has declined during the recent economic weakness.
The Small Business Administration and United States Chamber of Commerce have long been a resource for start-ups, but these government agencies have a broad mandate. There is a “growing recognition,” said Mr. Case, that high-growth start-ups — those with the potential to be national or international companies — have different needs and requirements than traditional small businesses.
Startup America’s initial focus was to provide support to start-ups through deals on goods and services, like 40 percent off FedEx shipping and free flights on American Airlines. But the group quickly realized that start-ups needed more practical help, like sharing best practices and networking.
Soon after the partnership’s start, entrepreneurs around the country starting contacting Startup America, asking how they could create their own networks and reach out to counterparts in other states. “Most of these regions were already coming up with their own initiatives or thinking about them,” said the organization’s chief executive, Scott Case, a founder and former chief technology officer of Priceline.com (and no relation to Steve Case). “We’re helping to stitch together all these parts.”
Taking cues from the entrepreneurs, Startup America has turned its attention to building such a network. Nearly 12,000 members are now affiliated with local Startup America initiatives in 30 states. The partnership expects to add another 10 states this year.
Each Startup America region is spearheaded by local “champions” who come together several times a year at national conferences, communicate via Google groups and have access to an online “idea center” where they can brainstorm about, say, bringing in outside capital or hosting a start-up conference. These envoys are all “founder types” at different stages of their careers, Scott Case said. “Some have exited companies and are looking to continue to feed that creative drive. Others understand that if they can strengthen their community, they can strengthen their own company.”
Brooks Bell, founder of an eponymous 22-employee digital consulting business based in Raleigh, N.C., became involved with the partnership in 2011 after realizing that many potential clients considered her area a backwater. “I realized that was impacting my company’s brand, too,” she said.
Mrs. Bell pointed out that other national groups, like Entrepreneurs’ Organizations, offer resources for high-growth companies. Yet, their emphasis is typically on supporting individuals rather than elevating the region and networking nationally. “They also tend to focus on early-stage companies,” she said. Until Startup America, she added, “there weren’t a lot of opportunities for early-stage companies to interact with funded companies.”
Though Startup America regions work off the same blueprint, each takes a slightly different approach. In Maryland, the staff and champions volunteer virtually. Startup Tennessee partnered with the Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, which runs a nonprofit incubator program. Startup Colorado works out of Silicon Flatirons, a center for law, technology and entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Law School, and finds partners to finance specific projects.
Although the regional chapters operate independently, they benefit from the credibility of a national organization. “It’s helping elevate our start-ups nationally and get them in front of audiences we never would have,” said Andy Stoll, an entrepreneur in the Iowa City, Iowa, area, where rebuilding from the floods in 2008 has helped generate a boom in start-up activity.
“To have the opportunity to sit in a room with their board and have Steve Case ask me, ‘What are the three things that those of us at this table can do to really help support the Indiana community?’ is amazing and a humbling experience,” said Michael Coffey, a partner at DeveloperTown, an Indianapolis design and development firm that works with companies of all sizes.
In the end, it’s all about business.
Aaron Schwartz, a co-founder of the San Francisco-based Modify Watches, initially joined Startup America for the discounts. Now, he’s also tapping into the partnership to network, including finding corporate clients who order custom watches and vendors. “I now have a contact in Tennessee who has offered to look into manufacturing our watches there,” he said.
Mr. Fuentes of Lemur Retail found two potential clients, both national chains, through his connections in Seattle last year; he’s currently in talks with those companies. He’s also helping his Northwest counterparts make inroads in the Washington area. He likens the experience to a fraternity or alumni organization of entrepreneurs.
“When people contact me from my high school or college, I pick up the phone,” he said. “This is no different.”
By: Ariel Schwartz
The sharing economy is growing rapidly, and this year saw its expansion into all sorts of new parts of the economy. But how will we deal with this reshaping of the idea of ownership?
Collaborative consumption, the peer-to-peer economy, the micro-entrepreneurship economy, the sharing economy: whatever you want to call it, this was the breakout year for digital platforms that let people share their personal assets, and in many cases carve out a decent side business from them.
Home-sharing service Airbnb is perhaps the best-known platform, but it’s hardly the only one that has found success. Peer to peer carsharing marketplaces like Relayrides and Getaround also grew in popularity over the past year; Relayrides is now available nationwide; Getaround is only available in select cities, but it recently launched a service that lets people rent their idle vehicles for months at a time.
Even for those with no home or car to rent, the sharing economy has ballooned to include almost anything you could want to loan: your driveway, cooking mastery, IKEA furniture-building expertise, waffle maker. But as with any new industry, some of the kinks have yet to be worked out. Trust is still an issue, especially when you’re taking a ride in someone’s car or sleeping in their home.
Check out our picks for Co.Exist’s best collaborative consumption stories of the past year:
1. 3 Rules For Building A Collaborative Consumption Business
The cofounder of Zimride talks about the keys to building a business that hinges on experience instead of ownership.
2. The Rise of the Micro-Entrepreneurship Economy
Are you making money renting your apartment on Airbnb? You’re a Micro-Entrepreneur. As more and more services let people monetize their own assets and knowledge, it’s creating a new sector of the economy.
3. What’s The Future Of The Sharing Economy?
As more and more businesses start that are based on using existing resources instead of selling new ones, how can those businesses mesh with an economy built to facilitate consumption?
4. Not Driving? Getaround Lets You Make Cash By Renting Your Idle Car For Months At A Time
Formerly concerned just with short-term rentals, the peer-to-peer car sharing service is moving into new territory.
5. Start Your Engines: Peer-To-Peer Carsharing Is Now Available Wherever You Live
Covet your neighbor’s car? You might get a chance to get behind the wheel, as RelayRides has expanded nationwide, potentially taking the idea of all of us sharing cars to a new level of popularity.
6. The Potential For Pitfalls And Success In The Sharing Economy
It seems like every day sees the launch of another collaborative consumption startup. Most recently: Sidecar, which is akin to Uber with non-professional drivers. Are we really good enough people to be sharing everything?
7. Can The Rise of Micro-Entrepreneurs Force Companies To Be More Human?
When the business landscape isn’t just corporation versus corporation, but corporation versus real human being, our values are going to be forced to change.
8. A Retailer For Free Stuff, Created By Walmart, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Zipcar Vets
Yerdle–a new site where you can list things to give away–hopes to change how we view consumerism and make it easier to give unwanted purchases a second life.
By: Jessica Bruder
Via: The New York Times
Small-business owners are like Swiss Army knives: expected to handle dozens of specialized tasks without falling apart. But even the sharpest entrepreneurs have it tough this time of year — inevitably, some will outsource part of their workload to other enterprising people.
CHALLENGE Your to-do list is crammed with tiny tasks. How can you delegate them cheaply?
ONE SOLUTION For $5 you could drink a large latte and work through the night. Or you could hire a minion at Fiverr, which bills itself as “the world’s largest marketplace for small services.” Starting at $5 apiece, tasks include designing business cards and letterheads, sending out handwritten cards, editing newsletters, making short commercial videos and throwing darts at a picture of your rival.
“Pretty much anything you imagine can be found on Fiverr,” said the company’s chief executive, Micha Kaufman, who set out in 2010 with Shai Wininger to build what Mr. Kaufman calls “an eBay for services.”
“It’s giving people the tools to do business with the entire world,” he added.
Fiverr, with headquarters in Tel Aviv and offices in New York and Amsterdam, has more than a million active buyers and sellers across 200 countries, Mr. Kaufman said. He would not disclose revenue or the number of sales his site has brokered so far. Fiverr has raised $20 million in financing and has 60 full-time staff members. The company collects a 20 percent commission on each sale.
THE COMPETITION Fiverr’s success has inspired an army of imitators, including Gig Me 5, Gigbucks, TenBux and Zeerk. Building and selling Fiverr copycat sites has also become a cottage industry for online software developers. Asked whether he took this as a compliment, Mr. Kaufman replied dryly, “One of my friends said, ‘It may be flattering, but it’s a very annoying way to flatter you.’ ”
CHALLENGE You want to delegate complex, highly specialized tasks, but it’s hard to find people whose expertise matches your needs.
ONE SOLUTION SkillPages connects skilled workers with those who want to hire them. The site showcases an array of specialists — beekeepers, tree surgeons, witches, clog dancers — along with professionals with more conventional business skills, like payroll administrators, social media marketers and typists.
Iain Mac Donald decided to start SkillPages after seeking a tree cutter online to do work in his yard. “This guy arrives with a huge truck, and he could have taken down a forest,” Mr. Mac Donald said. “He was going to charge me $3,000. It just wasn’t right.”
Mr. Mac Donald figured there had to be a way to help make better matches. To that end, SkillPages identifies specialists whom users’ families and friends may already know through social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Users can also view work samples online and contact members directly.
Based in Ireland, SkillPages went live in 2011 and opened an office in Palo Alto, Calif., this year. The company’s 35 employees handle traffic from more than nine million users worldwide, 1.5 million of them in North America. The company has received $18.5 million in financing, said Mr. Mac Donald, the chief executive, declining to disclose sales figures.
SkillPages’ basic services are free. To make money, it sells advertising space and offers premium memberships with stand-alone Web sites for those offering services. Next year, Mr. Mac Donald plans to offer a paid matchmaking service for talent-seeking companies. He is also building a “targeted offers” program that will let niche vendors present deals on products and services to members with relevant expertise. The vendors will pay SkillPages a bounty for each sale.
THE COMPETITION Guru, oDesk and Elance also focus on skilled work. LinkedIn added a “skills” component to its profiles last year.
CHALLENGE You are overwhelmed by errands and other location-specific jobs that cannot be farmed out to the other side of the planet. You need an affordable gofer: competent, trustworthy, local.
ONE SOLUTION TaskRabbit is an on-demand service for handling quick jobs: assembling Ikea furniture, packing boxes, wrapping gifts, mailing invitations or even carrying awkward objects like Christmas trees. The company sends requests to a network of “rabbits” — errand-runners screened through video interviews and background checks — who bid for the work. Last month, 80 were hired to wait on Black Friday lines.
Leah Busque got the idea for TaskRabbit one night in 2008, when she was going out to dinner and realized she had no food in the house for Kobe, her yellow Labrador. Envisioning an online service for dispatching errand-runners, she quit her job as an I.B.M. software engineer to build it. A year later, she won a slot in Facebook’s now defunct incubator program and later moved her company, then called RunMyErrand, to San Francisco from Boston.
Now TaskRabbit has 60 employees at its headquarters and more than 4,000 freelancers wrangling tasks for customers in the Bay Area and Austin, Tex.; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Portland, Ore.; and San Antonio.
TaskRabbit has raised almost $40 million in financing, and revenue nearly quintupled this year, Ms. Busque said. She would not disclose sales figures but said the company typically charges users 18 percent on top of its freelancers’ fees. Small businesses, she said, are her fastest-growing group of customers.
THE COMPETITION Agent Anything, Exec., Fancy Hands, PAForADay and Zaarly.
CHALLENGE Your business moved. In days of yore, you would just update the address in the local Yellow Pages. But now that information appears on myriad Web sites like Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo and Foursquare. How do you adjust them all?
ONE SOLUTION Yext gives business owners a single dashboard for updating directory information and posting special offers across 57 listing sites. After Hurricane Sandy, about 2,300 users logged on to post closings and other storm-related messages, according to Yext’s chief executive, Howard Lerman.
“My favorite was one guy who put up a 24-hour elevator rescue hot line,” he said.
Founded in 2006 in New York City, Yext, in its first incarnation, drove sales leads to other businesses on a pay-per-call basis. In August, Mr. Lerman sold that service, which he said was profitable and generating eight-figure revenue. He wanted to refocus on expanding Yext’s fledgling directory information product, which came out in 2011.
“I’m perfectly happy with the word ‘gamble,’ ” he said. “You should only take big bets in technology.”
Yext has raised $27 million in financing so far for its listings service, which passed the 100,000-subscriber mark this month and generates more than $30 million in annual revenue, according to Mr. Lerman. The full service costs $499, billed annually, and also notifies users when new reviews of their companies appear on listings sites.
“To go to all of those sites individually and try to manage your information or update stuff would take hours and hours and hours,” Mr. Lerman said. “Yext is all about businesses owning their own data.”
THE COMPETITION Localeze, Express Update and CityGrid.
By: Julie Weed
Via: The New York Times
The business card has long since left the realm of the office Rolodex and entered the world of the Web.
Business acquaintances and meeting attendees now transmit contact information between cellphones, and Web sites and mobile apps can connect that information to social and business networks.
Sandy Avvari, a digital and social media analyst at a Canadian automotive manufacturer, said she met about 15 people a week in her job but exchanged paper business cards only about 20 percent of the time. “We’re much more likely to exchange Twitter handles or connect to each other on LinkedIn,” she said.
Ms. Avvari said she used CardMunch, a free app, to take a photograph of a business card and send it to a service that transcribes the information and adds it to her phone’s address book. CardMunch is owned by LinkedIn, and so if the person is a member, a photo and basic profile of the business card’s owner appear on Ms. Avvari’s phone, allowing her to connect with the person on that service.
Attaching a LinkedIn profile to the business card “makes the contact dynamic, showing job changes or new phone numbers when they happen,” Ms. Avvari said. “It becomes more than a static piece of paper or address book entry.”
With the free app Bump, users can bump or tap their phones together to share contact information. The phones vibrate when they, or the hands holding them, make contact, and information is exchanged between the users’ address books.
If both users are signed into Facebook or LinkedIn, a list of acquaintances they have in common on those sites and in their address books will be displayed. Users can also transmit a photo, for example, of a product they sell if they are meeting at a trade show. Once two people have exchanged data, they can stay in touch using a messaging feature in the app. Bump works across platforms on Android and Apple devices.
With so many contacts flooding into business travelers’ address books, the details of how they met, what they talked about or why someone may be a good contact in the future can fade. Apps like Contacts Journal ($7.99 for iOS, or a free trial version) help users keep track of interactions. Documents like contracts or brochures can be attached to contact information, and users can see a map with pushpins denoting their contacts’ locations.
Many networking apps go beyond electronic business card exchanges and mobile contact databases. LinkedIn is the largest player in the business networking market, with more than 187 million members around the world. In addition to displaying their résumés online, LinkedIn members “connect” to people they know on the service, creating a virtual who-knows-whom map. Job seekers can look for a specific hiring manager and see if they have any connections in common. An employer evaluating a job candidate can get a trusted reference from someone they both know.
The basic functions of LinkedIn are free for individual users. For a monthly fee ranging from $16 to $500, users can gain access to additional search features and contact other members directly without waiting for an electronic introduction.
To network while on a business trip, travelers can use the free Planely Web site to type in their flight itineraries and see who else is traveling at the same time, with overlapping flight plans. Conference- or conventiongoers might find other attendees to share a taxi to the hotel, for instance. Nervous fliers might find someone to take their mind off a long or bumpy flight. The app lists all the Planely travelers on the user’s flight and those who are passing through the airport at the same time, to create a “social flying experience.”
Some networking apps use the phone owner’s location. The Friendthem app works with Facebook, displaying all members who are nearby and have signed up to be visible. This allows two people who meet at a conference, or perhaps at a hotel bar, to become Facebook friends easily, without having to search through a list of similar names to find the right person.
Friend requests can be sent to people who appear nearby, but no instant messaging is available because “our users don’t want creepy people sending them messages like, ‘I see you across the room,’ ” said Charles Sankowich, chief executive and founder of Friendthem. “We want our users to have total control of who communicates with them.” Friendthem also allows users to specify “hiding places,” like home or work, where they want to be invisible.
At home or on the road, the MeetMe app can offer two people convenient locations to meet. Users can choose the type of restaurant they want and use a slider bar to specify whether the meeting place should be equidistant from the two people or closer to one of them. The app also displays user reviews of meeting places and information from Yelp.com, along with directions.
There are, of course, downsides to the constant tracking of business colleagues. Networking apps make it harder to excuse not getting in touch with people by claiming you lost their card or did not know they had changed jobs. “The location-aware apps can also be tricky,” said James Sun, chief executive of Pirq, a mobile app developer in Seattle, “because once someone knows you are in the area, can you avoid having coffee with them?”
And the convenience and abundance of digital contact can be overwhelming, said David Domke, a communications professor at the University of Washington. People can become almost numb to the constant stream of data. “That’s why face to face, human interaction between people has become even more valuable in the digital age,” he said.
Still, users say social media can make initial business meetings less awkward. When she was applying for her current job, Ms. Avvari found the hiring manager’s Twitter stream and noticed they shared a love of baked goods. During the interview, Ms. Avvari brought up her own passion for food and her food blog, which she might not have mentioned otherwise, and the two hit it off.
“Whether it’s an employer or customer, I think few people realize how valuable researching them on social media can be for business,” she said.
Twitter also offers in-person networking on the road. At conferences, there might be a Twitter hashtag, Ms. Avvari said, like #CIAS for the Canadian International Auto Show, so attendees can see one another’s posts. “Sometimes I’ll see a funny or interesting tweet and ask to meet that person for coffee during one of the breaks,” she said.
Krista Canfield, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn, said she used the site to meet people when she traveled for her job. “If I am going to Japan or Brazil and I don’t know anyone,” she said, “I try to connect with people who know someone in my network and meet them for a meal, instead of eating alone.”
By: Devin Thorpe
If money is the only thing stopping you from doing something good in the world, stop waiting and start doing some good!
Nothing better symbolizes entrepreneurship than fundraising. Social entrepreneurs are no different. Today, there are a host of on-line resources for crowdfunding that social entrepreneurs can use to fund their projects, films, books, and social ventures. Today, I’ll briefly profile eight.
1. Kickstarter.com: Kickstarter is the 800 pound gorilla in crowdfunding, originally designed and built for creative arts, many technology entrepreneurs now use the site, some reporting to have raised millions of dollars. The Kickstarter funding model is an all-or-nothing model. You set a goal for your raise; if your raise exceeds the goal, you keep all the money, otherwise your supporters don’t pay and you don’t get anything. This protects supporters from some of the risk of your running out of money before your project is completed.
2. StartSomeGood.com: StartSomeGood, which I used to raise some money for my book, Your Mark On The World, is great for early-stage social good projects that are not (yet) 501(c)(3) registered nonprofits. StartSomeGood uses a unique “tipping point” model for fundraising, allowing you to set a funding goal and a lower “tipping point” at which your project can minimally proceed and where you will collect the money you raise.
3. Indiegogo.com: Indiegogo allows you to raise money for absolutely anything, using an optional “keep what you raise” model with higher fees or pay less to use an all-or-nothing funding approach.
5. Pozible.com: Pozible, run from Australia, has a global platform for all types of projects, emphasizing “creative projects and ideas” and specifically precludes fundraising for charities. Pozible operates with an all-or-nothing funding model.
6. Causes.com: Causes is designed specifically for 501(c)(3) registered nonprofits to raise money. The fees are low and all donors on the site understand that all of the contributions will be tax deductible. Causes is widely used to launch “action” campaigns, like boycotts, petitions and pledges rather than fundraising campaigns.
7. Razoo.com: Razoo boasts that it has now helped 14,000 causes raise over $100 million. This site is exclusively for social good causes but is not limited to 501(c)(3), using a keep-what-you-raise model, charging just 2.9% of money raised.
8. Crowdrise.com: Crowdrise is a site for 501(c)(3) charities to raise money, with the novelty being that anyone can sign up to volunteer to launch a fundraising campaign for a charity already registered on the site. Everyone can instantly become a social entrepreneur for a cause they believe in.
All of these sites are making great things happen for real people every day, advancing the arts, entrepreneurship and philanthropy in myriad ways. Check them all out and decide which one is the best for you.
Note that in general, the tax deductibility of donations made on these sites is determined by the tax status of the organization to which you donate and not by the crowdfunding site used. Donations made through any of the sites to a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit will generally be tax deductible for U.S. donors who itemize deductions on their tax returns. Check with your tax accountant if you have questions before you make a donation.