Entrepreneurs with a social mission are the target of a new crowdfunding platform called Dreamstarter, created by a partnership between ING Direct and StartSomeGood. StartSomeGood, launched last year by Tom Dawkins, is a crowdfunding platform for social innovation. Dawkins has described it as “Kickstarter but for social change”. And it seems the platform is living up to its name, launching a new initiative called Dreamstarter in partnership with financial services firm ING Direct in a bid to boost Australia’s social enterprise sector. Much like StartSomeGood, Dreamstarter enables Australian entrepreneurs to raise funds for social change projects, chosen by the Dreamstarter panel. The panel, which will review submissions once a month, is made up of representatives from StartSomeGood, ING Direct and the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE). Each project will only receive support funding if it reaches its “tipping point”, and it’s up to the panel to decide the funding amount. The first projects received an average of $2000. The tipping point is the minimum amount needed for the project to kick off. The initial round of applicants were all graduates of SSE, which runs learning programs for entrepreneurs who have an idea or start-up venture with a social or environmental benefit. A total of 10 ventures led by SSE graduates will launch in the initial round of fundraising through the Dreamstarter program. These ventures include connecting remote Aboriginal entrepreneurs to new markets via an online store, and an initiative to help rural communities in Malawi achieve greater self-sufficiency. According to Dawkins, the partnership breaks new ground in the “corporate social responsibility sector”. “Crowdfunding is a participatory model that democratises corporate philanthropy. The projects that will succeed are those that have a genuine mandate from the community,” Dawkins says. Similarly, SSE chief executive Celia Hodson said in a statement initiatives like Dreamstarter are breaking down the barriers social entrepreneurs face when attracting support for their ventures. “The Dreamstarter campaign is a fantastic way for start-up social ventures to raise their profile, attract critical seed funding and inspire others to create change in their communities,” she said. The news comes on the back of an announcement Thankyou Water founder Daniel Flynn has been named Victorian Young Achiever of the Year. Thankyou Water is a Melbourne-based social enterprise that sells bottled water in Australia in order to fund water projects in developing nations. Flynn founded the business when he was 19. All profits go towards funding safe water projects, with each bottle of water sold providing at least one month’s worth of safe water for someone in need. The business has seen strong growth over the past 12 months, almost quadrupling its turnover from the previous year. To date, it has funded 52 safe water projects in Cambodia, Myanmar, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Timor-Leste, assisting more than 33,000 people. “The whole reason behind what I do is to change lives through the provision of safe water,” Flynn said in a statement. “By constantly improving how we do things in our organisation, especially through innovation in the digital and technological space, we can spread the word to more people about our cause.”
A new crowdfunding platform aimed solely at local sporting clubs has highlighted the growth of niche crowdfunding websites, suggesting there are opportunities for other start-ups to specialise. Sportaroo, which has a team of six based in Australia and the United Kingdom, allows sports teams to raise funds for team projects by offering merchandise, experiences and sponsorship. According to Sportaroo spokesperson Jim May, it’s been an exciting few weeks. “Our first campaign for the Australian Women’s Olympic Bobsled Team is going great guns and is close to achieving its target,” May wrote on Silicon Beach Australia. “The girls are offering all sorts of supporter packs including great value sponsorship and the chance to ride in an Olympic bobsled.” Sportaroo isn’t the first start-up to carve a niche in the increasingly popular crowdfunding space. Here are a few others that are homing in on specific areas. Start Music Unlike Pozible – which encompasses all kinds of creative projects and ideas – Start Music is aimed solely at Australian music artists, allowing them to connect with fans and fund music. “A lot of musicians and artists haven’t heard of the concept of crowdfunding but I find they get it very quickly when I start explaining it,” founder Andrew Sellen told StartupSmart in July 2011. “I’m also going to have a system of milestones rather than a simple success/failure system… so fans are still engaged in helping them reach their 100% target. “My marketing strategy will revolve around contacting the sort of artists I’d like to see on the site. I’d like to see bands on there that are buzz bands – newer bands but growing in popularity.” StartSomeGood StartSomeGood is a US-based platform for social good initiatives to raise funds and grow a community of supporters. According to its Australian co-founder Tom Dawkins, StartSomeGood is “Kickstarter but for social change”, which is “lowering the barriers [for] people… who want to make a difference”. “Currently, you’re told you have to register as a charity before you can access most fundraising platforms, which builds in costs and delays, and excludes social enterprises,” Dawkins told StartupSmart in January last year. Dawkins – who is part of the Australian delegation for the 2013 G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit – said StartSomeGood enables social enterprises to raise funds “based on their vision, plan and credibility, not their tax status”. GoFundMe US-based crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, which was founded by Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester, has been described as “Kickstarter for the rest of us”. GoFundMe is a do-it-yourself online fundraising service, which helps people raise substantial amounts of money in online donations for their various causes. In September last year, it was revealed GoFundMe will launch a new partner program, which will see it partner with organisations whose members raise funds through the site. GoFundMe already takes a 5% cut of all funds raised on its platform. Through this program, it will split that with the organisations it partners with. This means GoFundMe and Member Networks will each receive 2.5% of the funds raised in associated campaigns. Seedstarter Realising that scientists regularly look for funding in order to commercialise their innovations – but are often underwhelmed when communicating with investors – Michael Dawson and Stephen DeVilliers created a crowdfunding site specifically for the science sector. “Seed Starter is all about getting the community involved and interested in science,” the website says. “We’re interested in research projects from all fields of science including biology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, astronomy, technology, engineering, social science, medicine, agriculture and many more. We are looking for projects from researchers with affiliations at universities, nonprofits or other research institutions. This includes tenured faculty, post-docs, and graduate students. We also accept proposals from industry bodies.”
Start-ups have an opportunity to learn the secrets of successful crowdfunding campaigns at an event next month, as the method grows in popularity as a way to raise finance.