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Aussie app Budge launches with $1 million investment

Monday, 12 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

An app created in Melbourne that describes itself as a “micro-donation platform” has launched in Australia and the United States, having raised $1 million from investors including Seek co-founders Paul Bassat and Matt Rockman.

 

Budge, founded by Hillan Klein and Marc Lipsitz, is an iPhone app that encourages users to challenge their friends to everyday activities or play games they already use.

 

The loser of the challenge then donates a preset micro donation – typically $1-$5 – to one of the app’s partnering charities, which include children’s hospitals and world poverty initiatives.

 

Klein and Lipsitz, who hail from Melbourne, came up with the idea after growing tired of traditional fundraising methods, which they felt were outdated and uninspiring.

 

“Budge was born out of our vision that giving to charity should be a fun and super easy process,” Klein says.

 

“With this goal in mind, we set out to build a new culture in charitable giving specifically aimed at Gen Y by combining social behaviour with micro-donations.”

 

“We want to educate people that it’s okay to give in small amounts – casual deeds can truly have a meaningful impact.”

 

According to Klein, Budge is the only social, mobile and micro-donation platform currently available.

 

Following a successful beta launch, Budge has members actively “challenging” and donating in Australia and the United States. It has even opened an office in New York.

 

While Budge only officially launched today, it has already raised $1 million from major Australian investors including Square Peg Ventures and Seek co-founder Matt Rockman.

 

StartupSmart mentor Tony Faure, who has been at the helm of companies such as Yahoo! and ninemsn, is another investor in Budge.

 

The founders also contributed to the raise, along with their families and friends.

 

“I personally met with and pitched to [Square Peg Ventures principal] Paul Bassat after networking to meet with him,” Klein says.

 

“Paul then assisted with introductions to some other investors, as well as my own efforts to reach out through my networks.”

 

“I similarly pitched to our other investors, who in turn loved our concept, believed in our team and wanted to come on board to be part of changing the way people give to charity. All of these investors are hands-on.”

 

Klein says the funds will go towards marketing and partnership opportunities.

 

Faure says there are three main things he likes about Budge – the passion of the team, the way it uses a social concept to support charitable causes, and the “innately viral” design of the product.

 

According to Bassatt, Budge is “creating a cultural shift in micro-philanthropy”.

 

“Currently, charitable giving is at an inflection point – struggling to engage younger generations while also grappling with how best to revive a stagnant industry,” he says.

 

“With its seamless social mobile user experience, we think Budge will help power this new era of philanthropy and we’re excited to be part of this opportunity.”

 

Once the Budge app is downloaded, users can invite or find friends through Facebook or connect with friends already using the app.

 

From there, it takes a few seconds to create a challenge, select a charity and challenge friends. Challenges can be anything from a game of chess to a fitness contest.

 

The app features a “Like” feature as well as a news feed to follow friends’ actions. The donations are all processed in real time.

 

Budge has formed partnerships with nonprofits including the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, BreastCancer.org, Y Generation Against Poverty, the United Nations World Food Programme and READ Global.