Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have integrated crowdfunding into the creative and entrepreneurial spaces. However, Fort Collins-based Community Funded is trying to give crowdfunding a more community-oriented approach.
Founded by Colorado State University graduates McCabe Callahan, Ryan Stover and Blue Hovatter, CommunityFunded.com is a crowdfunding platform from which projects in Northern Colorado, Wyoming and other locations have been launched.
“The genesis of the idea came from a real-world example of a community coming together to support an idea,” Callahan said.
In 2010, due to issues with acquiring bank loans, Callahan struggled to grow his Mugs Coffee Lounge business. As a result, community members and patrons all chipped in so he could open the second shop on Laurel and Howes streets.
“Then, I heard a story about Kickstarter on NPR and realized that technology could be used to amplify the effectiveness of community collaboration,” Callahan said. “We set out to build a platform that helped anyone, not just creative artists, raise money for anything.”
“[CommunityFunded.com] has been a great tool to reach out to our benefactors who’ve relocated, our younger volunteer-base, and those that no longer regularly attend the performances,” Threewitt said.
Stover said anyone is welcome to submit a project to CommunityFunded.com for review, provided they include nothing offensive or “blatantly illegal.”
“It’s a platform for all types of projects,” Stover said. “We’ve had everything from the start-up business to non-profits to everything in between.”
Community Funded also licenses out a software program called EmpoweredBy Community Funded to organizations and communities who want to develop individual crowdfunding platforms under unique brands. Current clients include the Thompson Education Foundation, Portland State University, Oklahoma State University and even CSU with its crowdfunding platform Charge.
“Each platform sets its own criteria, and they have their own mission and vision that they’re focused on,” Stover said. “We just give them the technology, then they’re vetting their own projects.”
Loveland non-profit Thompson Education Foundation, which cultivates educational opportunities for the Thompson School District through a collection of funds, recently reached board approval on a contract to employ the EmpoweredBy service.
“We’ve never really been able to find the right platform … to help the schools themselves raise funds for their different programs,” said Kim Akeley-Charron, Thompson Education Foundation executive director. “[EmpoweredBy] gives us the opportunity to extend that invitation out to the schools.”
While CommunityFunded.com as an individual crowdfunding platform is still a major focus for the company, Stover believes there is even greater potential in the EmpoweredBy program.
“When we created CommunityFunded.com, the platform, it was mainly localized to Northern Colorado, because that’s where we are and that’s where our connections and community lie,” Stover said. “Our vision was always to grow that outside Northern Colorado, but we realized that the best way to do that was to empower people in other places to start their own platforms using our technology.”
According to Callahan, what they have accomplished over the past few years is only the “tip of the iceberg.” He believes that as this technology grows, we could see global collaboration.
“That’s what really excites Ryan and I, that vision of a global community ending poverty, ending world hunger and ending cancer and those kinds of things, because so many people come together to one place … to make those things a reality,” Callahan said.
Collegian Business and Technology Beat Reporter Nicholas LeVack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NicholasLeVack.