NOTE: This was originally published April 27 2015 on the StartSomeGood blog.
Today is an incredible day. I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve closed a funding round with a couple of great investors and are excited to take an important step in our journey, which will include the launch of a new version of the StartSomeGood platform in June.
Leading the round is Trimantium Capital, a Melbourne-based technology and impact investment management company led by serial entrepreneur Phillip Kingston, who is joining the board. Phillip specifically and Trimanitum generally have incredible experience taking companies to scale and are at the forefront of the impact investing and social enterprise movements in Australia. We couldn’t have better or more aligned partners and we’re very grateful for their support for our vision.
At milestones like this it’s impossible not to look back at where we started.
StartSomeGood began when I got a call from Alex Budak, who I had worked with at the non-profit Ashoka in Washington DC. He wanted to share an idea with me.
That idea was for a purpose-build crowdfunding platform for world-changing projects. He felt, and I agreed, that just as crowdfunding had solved a problem for artists – how to make new work without the support of traditional funding bodies – it could solve a similar problem for social entrepreneurs.
We both felt that the traditional funding sector for social impact – governments, foundations, wealthy benefactors – was too risk-adverse, and as a result we saw a lack of innovation in this most important of sectors.
Working with a small voluntary team we managed to get the first version of the website launched on March 1 2011, only about an hour before I was scheduled to deliver a presentation launching it to an audience of non-profits (lesson learned: never do live launches). Seven days later our first project hit their funding goal. We were thrilled. It was working!
I’d like to say it was all plain sailing and “crushing it” from there but the truth it it’s been a hard slog, with traction hard to come by the first couple of years. But we stuck at it, inspired by the changemakers we worked with and the real impact their projects were creating in people’s lives.
And over the past 18 months we have been growing strongly, by 400% last year, and reached the position where we felt ready to take on outside investment to fuel this growth.
Over the past four years we’ve had the honour to work with some incredible people, from world-renowned social entrepreneurs to 16 year-olds, civil rights heroes to local community groups, scientists to political candidates, emerging social entrepreneurs and 80 year-old charities.
We’ve now helped 500 projects raise over $5 million, with just shy of half of that money raised in 2014.
Projects funded on StartSomeGood include The Food Justice Truck, who raised $153,000 last year, making it the biggest social enterprise crowdfunding campaign in Australia. We’ve also supported a new speech therapy app in the US, political transparency tools in South America, women-led enterprises in Cambodia, the first foundation dedicated to supporting indigenous GLBTQ people in Australia and so much more.
We are incredibly grateful to have the support of Trimantium and our private investors. The majority of the investment is going towards re-imagining our platform, rebuilding it from the ground-up, creating a beautiful, scalable and easy-to-use platform for changemakers around the world. We are incorporating lots of great ideas and requests from our users as well as some new ideas on how best to connect social benefit projects with potential supporters.
We are also investing in our support process which we think is already one of the best in the world. Our commitment continues to be to work with every project one-on-one to share with you everything we know about crowdfunding so you have the best chance of success. And on StartSomeGood you do have the best chance of success, with 54% of projects reaching their goals (compared with 38% for Kickstarter and 9% for IndieGoGo). Joey Rosenberg, founder of Girls to Girls, has said “I’ve worked with a few crowdfunding sites before and StartSomeGood has been the absolute best. I’ve been blown away by the level of support.”
Phillip Kingston had this to say about their decision to invest: “Trimantium is impressed with the social impact and business growth StartSomeGood is generating in a short space of time with limited resources. It’s envisaged that with extra support and capital, StartSomeGood is likely to cement its place in the global social financial tech and fundraising space, and carve out new and important capital flows to important projects."
A huge thanks especially to all the project-creators and project-supporters who have helped us get this far. We would be nothing without you and supporting you to make a difference is why we exist.
Work with us! We are currently looking for a Software Engineer to help create the next great crowdfunding platform, initially working with our technology partner KDIS in Melbourne. More details here.
Onwards and upwards!