Crowdfunding Platform Billion Applies Bracketology To Social Entrepreneurship
An Ohio State University student is leading a team building a new crowdfunding platform aimed at finding the best ideas for social entrepreneurship to solve global issues such as hunger or delivery of medical supplies.
Billion is set to launch in September at the Columbus Independents’ Day arts festival. Think of it as Indiegogo for funding Ted Talks powered by March Madness.
“There aren’t any crowdfunding sites that support global issues,” said Eileen Guan, founder and CEO. “I feel like Billion is in a category of its own.”
Here’s how it works: On a set day, entrants pitch their idea for solving a global issue – say, clean water or the garbage islands floating in the ocean – and collect votes of $1 each. They are then set up in a bracket-style competition. Every dollar pledged follows the top vote-getter in each head-to-head matchup, so the whole pot flows to the eventual winner.
Billion won’t allow existing nonprofits or social enterprises to pitch, on the thought that true innovation comes from solo entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs are really the only people in the world who aren’t restricted by rules,” she said. “They can make things so much faster.”
Guan won $4,000 with the idea at GiveBackHack, a Columbus business-building competition focused on tackling social issues. She is the chief user experience and front-end designer. Co-founders are software engineer Alex Vargas as chief technology officer and Ray Li as COO.
A business student entering her senior year, Guan wasn’t even interested in startups until winter break, when she started avidly absorbing all she could on the community. Within two months she’d backed out of a corporate job she’d lined up for this summer; instead she’s an intern with a startup at the Rev1 Ventures incubator.
Through Rev1 and the startup community she’s met many successful entrepreneurs who give advice.
“There’s definitely that element of ‘oh that’s so cute.’ They humor me, essentially,” she said.
“I just got an idea and I went out and did it,” she said. “Because I didn’t know the rules, it enabled me to be more successful.”
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